Google faces November deadline for initial response to US antitrust case

Alphabet's Google is due to tell a district court how it will respond to a federal antitrust lawsuit by mid-November, with both sides making initial disclosures later in the month, U.S. Judge Amit Mehta said in a report on Friday. brief order.

The U.S. Department of Justice sued Google on October 20, accusing the $ 1 trillion company of illegally using its market power to hamper rivals in the greater challenge of power and influence. Big Tech for decades.

The federal government alleges that Google acted illegally to maintain its position in search and search engine advertising. Google has denied any wrongdoing.

At a status conference on Friday, John Schmidtlein, who represents Google, agreed to tell U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia by November 13 whether the search and advertising giant plans to ask that the matter be dismissed on summary judgment.

After a bit of a scuffle between government attorneys and Google, Judge Mehta said both sides are expected to make initial disclosures about potential witnesses and evidence that could be used at trial by November 20.

The judge asked the two sides to produce a status report on a protection order by November 6, which would protect third parties like Google customers who provide evidence for the government.

The next status conference was set for November 18.

The judge, who was chosen at random, also revealed personal links to Google, including a cousin who worked for the company and a friend who had been an executive there.

Mehta said he was unaware of his cousin's role at Google. "I'll admit to you that I don't know what he's doing," the judge said.

Google declined to confirm the identity of the cousin or to clarify his role.

Antitrust experts said Mehta, who was appointed to the Washington court by President Barack Obama, was a good choice for the government because he is not seen as pro-business.

The family ties of judges are sometimes contested by the parties to a trial when they are looking for a different judge. It's unclear whether Google, or the government, would try to get Mehta to recuse itself.

US law requires a judge to disqualify himself "in any proceeding in which his impartiality could reasonably be called into question." The law cites situations such as "a person in the third degree of relationship" with the judge or his or her spouse is an officer or director of the company, a potential important witness or a person who could be "substantially affected" by the case.

© Thomson Reuters 2020

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