Judge Lays Out Opening Moves In Google Antitrust Trial

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US judge sets mid-November deadline for Google’s response to Justice Department antitrust lawsuit, with a status update at the end of this week

A US judge has set a mid-November deadline for Google to respond to the US Justice Department’s antitrust lawsuit filed in October, as the two sides prepare to begin the landmark case.

Lawyer John Schmidtlein, representing Google, agreed to tell the US District Court for the District of Columbia by 13 November whether the company plans to ask the case to be thrown out of court on a summary judgement.

US judge Amit Mehta told the two sides to make initial disclosures about potential witnesses and evidence that may be used at trial by 20 November.

Mehta also asked the two sides to produce a status report by 6 November on a protective order for potential witnesses.

justice, court, doj, trial, gavel, googleOpening moves

Such orders protect third-parties, such as companies that work with Google, who are asked to provide evidence in support of the government’s case.

The Justice Department sued Google on 20 October, accusing the $1 trillion (£770m) company of abusing its market dominance to weaken rivals’ positions.

The case is the biggest challenge to a dominant tech company in decades, and has been compared to the Justice Department’s successful antitrust case against Microsoft of 1998 or its breakup of AT&T in the 1980s.

The government accuses Google of illegally maintaining its dominance in both search and advertising, while Google has denied wrongdoing.

US communications regulator the FTC is also considering filing an antitrust lawsuit against Facebook, according to reports last month.

Tech dominance

The FTC’s five members met on 22 October, shortly after the Justice Department filed its lawsuit against Google, to discuss its investigation of Facebook and whether the company had acquired competitors such as WhatsApp and Instagram in order to maintain its monopoly, according to multiple reports.

Earlier in October the House Judiciary Committee recommended taking action to break up the big tech platforms, including Facebook, Amazon, Apple and Google, which together have a market value of around $5tn.

The US Senate Commerce Committee has also been looking into whether to make changes to a law that grants tech platforms legal immunity for their content moderation decisions.

Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey, Google chief Sundar Pichai and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg appeared before the panel to face questions last week.

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