Bazaarvoice Inc. violated federal antitrust law when it bought San Francisco rival PowerReviews Inc. in 2012 for $168.2 million, a federal judge ruled Friday in a 140-page decision.
U.S. District Judge William Orrick III ruled that Bazaarvoice conspired to hold down the price of product reviews and ratings by taking over its main rival. The decision came after a three-week trial that ended in October.
“The evidence that Bazaarvoice and PowerReviews expected the transaction to have anticompetitive effects is overwhelming,” Orrick wrote.
Bazaarvoice is the leading market provider of ratings and reviews platforms to companies involved in online commerce. PowerReviews was its primary competitor.
“By acquiring its only significant rival, Bazaarvoice deprived its customers of the benefits of competition,” said U.S. Justice Department Assistant Attorney General Bill Baer. “As shown during trial, Bazaarvoice executives clearly intended to eliminate competition by acquiring PowerReviews,” he said.
“The evidence presented at trial demonstrated that PowerReviews was a significant threat to Bazaarvoice and that other rivals are poorly positioned to fill the competitive void created by the merger.”
Bazaarvoice Chairman tom Meredith testified during the trial that he considered the antitrust allegations to be “BS.”
The trial included testimony from 40 witnesses, reading from 100 depositions and 980 exhibits.
Case: U.S. v. Bazaarvoice, Inc., No. 13-133WHO