The New York Times is reporting that the FTC is investigating whether or not the close ties between Apple and Google might run afoul of anti-trust laws contained in Section 8 of the Clayton Antitrust Act. The reason for concern lies in the fact that two of Apple’s board members, Google CEO Eric Schmidt and former Genentech CEO Arthur Levinson, are also board members over at Google.
While there’s nothing wrong with an individual serving as a board member for two different companies, things start to get fishy when those two companies are direct competitors, and the opportunity for collusion increases.
Up until recently, the idea that Apple was in direct competition with Google was laughable. But with the advent of the iPhone and the subsequent launch of Google Android, there is an obvious overlap of business interests between the two companies. Just a few months ago, we reported that Apple supposedly asked Google not to implement multi-touch capabilities in its Android Mobile OS. It has also been reported that Google CEO Eric Schmidt is sometimes asked to leave the boardroom when sensitive matters that might pertain to Google are discussed.
Nonetheless, the Times notes that Section 8 of the Clayton Antitrust Act is rarely enforced, but apparently the FTC wants to have a look around just in case.