Timeline on Monopoly Lawsuit Regarding Search and Search Advertising Market

The U.S. Department of Justice, along with a group of State Attorneys General, sued Google in 2020 for illegally monopolizing the internet search engine and internet search advertising markets.

The complaint, which refers to Google as “a monopoly gatekeeper for the internet,” argues that Google’s dominance in internet search and search advertising is a result of anticompetitive behavior that negatively affects competition, harms consumers, inhibits innovation, and prevents new market entrants.

Specifically, the Justice Department alleges that Google monopolizes internet search through pay-to-play agreements with search distributors that force users into using its search engine. The suit maintains that in these distribution agreements, Google pays other companies billions of dollars to feature its search engine on their devices and platforms – from manufacturers like Apple and Samsung, to wireless carriers like Verizon and AT&T, and browser developers like Mozilla Firefox. The suit alleges that these agreements forbid the preinstallation of any competing search engine, denying Google’s search challengers market access. The suit says that Google monetizes its search monopoly through advertising and uses the profits from its search monopoly to continue paying off search distributors. As a result, search competitors who can’t afford to cut billion-dollar checks to make their search engines accessible face an insurmountable barrier to entry.

In the suit, the Justice Department is asking for structural relief “as needed” to cure anticompetitive harm. When asked if the Department is seeking to break up Google, an official said that “nothing is off the table” but that the Department would leave the question of remedies to the court after it heard all the evidence.

DOJ Suit

2020
October 20

Department of Justice Files Suit

The Department of Justice — along with eleven state Attorneys General — files a civil antitrust lawsuit to stop Google from unlawfully maintaining monopolies in the search and search advertising markets.

December 20

Three More States

California, Michigan and Wisconsin sign on to the Dept. of Justice’s suit against Google.

December 21

Answer

Google answers the complaint and forgoes a motion to dismiss.

2021
August 17

Discovery Ongoing

Discovery is ongoing with significant disputes over data sharing and protective orders. In one particularly contentious court battle, the plaintiffs accused Google of concealing documents by improperly instructing employees to copy attorneys on emails and cloak them in the attorney-client privilege. The Court ordered Google to re-review 1000s of documents and produce any that were not actually privileged communications.

2022
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.

December 13

Google Files for Summary Judgement

In a sealed filing, Google asks a federal judge to forgo a trial and rule in its favor.

2023
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.

January 11

Google’s Motion for Summary Judgement Unsealed

Google’s December 2022 motion for summary judgement is finally unsealed, with Google’s redacted filings arguing that the case should be decided in its favor since its dominance is due to its search engine’s popularity. Google says its pay-to-play agreements with other companies are legal and don’t prevent them from supporting Google’s rivals.

June 20

Parties Exchange Initial Trial Information

IF THE CASE SURVIVES MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT:
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

IF CASE SURVIVES MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT:
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

IF CASE SURVIVES MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT:
Parties meet and confer regarding disputes about confidentiality of documents on trial exhibit lists.

September 1

Pre-trial Conference

IF THE CASE SURVIVES MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT:
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

IF THE CASE SURVIVES MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT:
Subject to change, but as deemed by the Court the trial will begin September 12, 2023.