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Leah Brannon, Mar 17, 2008
On March 11, 2008, the European Commission unconditionally cleared Google Inc.’s acquisition of DoubleClick Inc. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) previously closed its investigation on December 20, 2007, also without imposing any conditions on the transaction. Both the Commission and the FTC conducted extraordinarily thorough reviews, investigating a wide range of theories of harm raised by various complainants. The majority of these complainants were Google’s competitors. Their theories ranged from the economically unsound to the truly bizarre. No coherent theme emerged from the complainants’ hodgepodge of theories, and indeed many theories were both internally inconsistent and inconsistent with other complainants’ assertions. Nonetheless, the agencies carefully considered and rejected each of these theories. Review of the Google/DoubleClick transaction was the agencies’ first extensive investigation of the online advertising industry; accordingly, they addressed at length (and expended agency resources analyzing) even some of the more frivolous theories complainants raised.