The DOJ’s Antitrust Suit Against Google Is Probably On Hold Until 2023

The DOJ’s Antitrust Suit Against Google Is Probably On Hold Until 2023
Photo: Spencer Platt, Getty Images

We finally have an idea of when the DOJ’s antitrust suit against Google will actually head to trial, and it’s… going to be a bit of a wait.

Per CNBC, both Google and US District Judge Amit Mehta — who was assigned the historic case when it was announced in October — agreed in a Friday status hearing that the trial was on track to get rolling in “late 2023.” If you want to mark your calendars, Mehta marked down September 12, 2023, as the tentative start date.

As for how long the trial will take, that depends on who you ask. CNBC cited previous status hearings where the Department’s counsel estimated a 10-to-12 week trial, which would mean this would be stretching out to close to that year’s end. Google’s lawyers were more optimistic.

Three major antitrust suits that have been raised against the tech giant over the past few months, so just to recap which one we’re talking about here: towards the end of October, the DOJ and eleven state attorneys general filed an antitrust suit largely focused on the company’s multibillion dollar search engine empire. Specifically, the case called out alleged deals that Google cut with hardware manufacturers, wireless carriers and browser developers to ensure its search engine was placed onto their products by default — a move that the suit claims was sometimes done specifically to “prohibit Google’s counter-parties from dealing with Google’s competitors.”

Since October, we’ve seen three more Attorneys General — California, Michigain, and Wisconsin — join this case, meaning that there’s a grand total of 14 states currently flanking the DOJ’s pending trial.

Google’s shifty behaviour might seem pretty cut and dry, but antitrust law is pretty complicated in the best of times. It doesn’t help that this case mandates the DOJ tweaking some of its longstanding courtroom rules. In a hearing earlier this month, Mehta explained that the Department’s plan to keep Google’s lawyers from reviewing the material provided by it competitors — the Department’s “preferred approach for guarding information,” per the Wall Street Journal — potentially put Google at an unfair advantage.

The two sides need to iron out that wrinkle (and potentially a few others that legal experts have raised about the case) before the trial. Which again, won’t happen any time soon.