In a bid to head off a looming antitrust suit, Google and Yahoo! have petitioned the US Department of Justice (DOJ) for a settlement. The companies are now negotiating with the DOJ and hope to come to an agreement that will allow them to consummate a controversial deal that would see Google serving some ads via Yahoo!'s Web search engine.

According to reports, the settlement talks are at an early stage and it's unclear whether the companies will be able to resolve the DOJ's objections. Numerous competitors, partners, trade groups, and customers of both Google and Yahoo! have complained to the US and other governments about the proposed deal, which many see as anticompetitive. Google already dominates Web advertising, and Yahoo!, which struggling, is the number two player.

Previously, Google and Yahoo! publicly stated that they would not wait for federal approval before moving ahead with the deal. But the companies suddenly and unexpectedly reversed course last week, and agreed to put off the combined advertising until at least October 22.