Timeline on Monopoly Lawsuit Regarding Search and Search Advertising Market

A coalition of 38 states, led by Colorado and Nebraska, filed an antitrust lawsuit in December 2020 against Google for monopolizing internet search and search-related advertising services. The lawsuit has been consolidated with a similar one filed against Google by the U.S. Department of Justice in D.C. federal court. The States argue that Google has built and maintained search and search advertising monopolies by illegal anticompetitive behavior.

Like the Justice Department’s case, the States allege that Google prevents consumers from using search competitors through “exclusionary agreements” that also deny competitors access to search distribution. In these agreements, the States say, Google makes billion-dollar payoffs to device manufacturers that force its search engine to be the default on most mobile devices. The suit also alleges Google locks other search engines out of distribution by working with device manufacturers and internet browsers to favor its own search engine on their platforms, denying crucial market access to Google’s search challengers.

However, the States expand upon the Justice Department’s claims. They allege that Google also prevents consumers from reaching its search competitors via other internet-connected devices like smart speakers and cars. The suit also alleges that Google restricts the interoperability of its dominant search advertising tool – which it pledges to be “neutral” – to hurt competitors. Furthermore, the States allege that Google discriminates against “specialized vertical providers” – third party companies such as Expedia or Yelp that compete with Google to help customers find everything from plumbers to flights or restaurants.

In the suit, the States are asking the Court for structural relief to cure anticompetitive harm and restore competition to affected markets – including possibly forcing Google to spin off parts of its business.

Colorado Suit

December 17

States File

38 States, led by Colorado and Nebraska, file a civil antitrust lawsuit against Google for monopolizing internet search and search advertising.

January 8

Cases Consolidated for Discovery

A D.C. federal judge consolidates the States’ case with that of the Dept. of Justice. The cases are combined for pretrial purposes, including discovery.

February 2

Discovery Struggle

Google argues with the States and DOJ about the discovery timeline and tries to restrict depositions, claiming that allowing the now-consolidated parties their desired number will double its burden. The States say that, since their claims differ from the DOJ’s, they require extra depositions and information.

July 30

Data Disagreements

During a contentious discovery period, Google spars with State AGs over releasing requested data samples. Judge Mehta has to order a deadline for the data to be handed over.

November 30

Discovery Extension

Judge Mehta grants a short 45-day extension to allow the States and DOJ to complete discovery, but insists he’ll hold to a September 2023 trial date.

December 7

Two-Phase Trial

Judge Mehta decides for efficiency to split the trial into two phases: first, a jury will determine whether Google broke the law; if so, then damages and remedies will be determined.

July 20

Joint Status Report

The parties have provided the Court with periodic updates regarding the state of discovery and any disputes between the parties. In the last report, Plaintiffs indicated that they need to re-depose (question under oath) a number of Google witnesses because of the late produced documents that came from Google’s improper privilege claims.

September 23

Close of Expert Discovery

Close of expert discovery, 45 days after final expert reports are filed. Expert discovery is the period of time when parties exchange expert reports and depose each other’s expert their opinions. In antitrust cases, expert reports usually relate to the economic impact of the defendant’s anti-competitive conduct. This can often take several months.

October 24

Deadline to File Motion for Summary Judgment

Summary judgment is when the court rules in one party’s favor, without a trial, because there are no factual issues for a jury to decide. Defendants almost always file motions asking for this relief, and if the court grants the defendant’s motion, that usually ends the case at the trial court level.

December 8

Opposition to Summary Judgment Due

Deadline to file oppositions to motions for summary judgment – 45 days after service of summary judgment.

January 9

Final Filings Concerning Summary Judgment

Deadline to file replies in support of summary judgment – 30 days after service of oppositions to summary judgment motion.

June 20

Parties Exchange Initial Trial Information

Both parties exchange initial exhibit lists, opening deposition designations (prior testimony to be read to the jury), and initial witness lists. This occurs 12 weeks before the trial begins.

July 18

First Exchange of Objections to Exhibits and Deposition Designations

Each side exchanges its objections to the other side’s exhibits, witnesses, and deposition designations and its deposition counter-designations.

August 15

Additional Dispute Discussions Regarding Exhibit Lists

Parties meet and confer regarding disputes about confidentiality of documents on trial exhibit lists.

September 1

Pre-trial Conference

Final Pre-trial conference – two weeks before trial begins (or as set by the Court). This is a very important hearing where the Court will tell the parties what evidence and witnesses they can present to the jury. The parties and the Court will also begin discussing jury instructions, which can have significant impacts on the outcome of the case.

September 12

Trial Begins

Subject to change, but as deemed by the Court the trial will begin September 12, 2023.