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Google vs. DOJ: A timeline

Ashley Gold
Aug 31, 2023

Illustration: Gabriella Turrisi/Axios

Here's a helpful timeline of what's happened in U.S. vs. Google as we gear up for the Sept. 12 start of the trial.

Oct. 20, 2020: The Justice Department and 11 state attorneys general filed a complaint against Google, accusing the tech giant of violating Section 2 of the Sherman Antitrust Act, engaging in unlawful monopoly maintenance in the markets for "general search services, search advertising and general search text advertising."

  • At the time, the DOJ said no remedies were off the table, including Google potentially having to spin off parts of its business.

Dec. 17, 2020: A bipartisan coalition of 38 state attorneys general sued Google, accusing it of disadvantaging rival specialized search companies such as Yelp and TripAdvisor by boosting its own Google-sponsored results and using those same tactics to assert dominance in areas like smart speakers.

Jan. 7, 2021: The DOJ consolidated the two above cases under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

Jan. 15, 2021: California, Michigan and Wisconsin joined as plaintiffs.

2021-23: Both parties participate in an extensive, rigorous discovery period, culminating in Google asking for summary judgment for all claims in both cases.

  • During this period, plaintiffs and defendants had many status hearings.
  • High-profile scuffling occurred over Google declining to depose the same executives repeatedly and accusations that Google had overzealously claimed attorney-client privilege and engaged in a practice of deleting chats to keep company emails and other information secret.
  • The DOJ may argue that there's still evidence of Google's anticompetitive conduct buried in company communications it won't reveal.

Aug. 4, 2023: Judge Mehta threw out parts of the case, including the specialized vertical provider claims, citing a lack of evidence of anticompetitive harm.

Sept. 12, 2023: Trial is set to begin.

The big picture: Expect a slow process. When the DOJ sued Microsoft beginning in 1997, the process took five years. An antitrust suit against IBM in the 1970s took 13.

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