Google has its November deadline for its first response to the US antitrust case

Alphabet’s Google has to tell a district court how it will respond to a federal antitrust lawsuit by mid-November. The two sides will provide initial information later in the month, US Judge Amit Mehta said in a brief decision on Friday.

The US Department of Justice sued Google October 20, accusing the $ 1 trillion company of illegally using its market muscles to hobble rivals in the greatest challenge to big tech’s power and influence in decades.

The federal government claims that Google acted illegally to maintain its position in search as well as search advertising. Google has denied any wrongdoing.

In a status conference on Friday, John Schmidtlein, who represents Google, agreed to notify the US District Court for the District of Columbia by November 13th whether the search and advertising giant intended to dismiss the case after a summary judgment.

After some argument between government lawyers and Google, Judge Mehta said the two sides should provide initial information on potential witnesses and evidence that could be used in court by November 20.

The judge asked the two sides to prepare a status report by Nov. 6 on a protection order that would protect third parties such as Google customers who present evidence for the government.

The next status conference was scheduled for November 18th.

The randomly selected judge also posted personal links to Google, including a cousin who worked for the company and a friend who had been an executive there.

Mehta said he didn’t know his cousin’s role on Google. “I’ll confess to you that I don’t know what he’s doing,” said the judge.

Google declined to confirm the cousin’s identity or reveal his role.

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

Judges’ family relationships are sometimes called into question by parties to a legal dispute when seeking another judge. It’s unclear whether Google or the government would try to get Mehta to reuse itself.

Under US law, a judge must “disqualify himself in any process in which his impartiality could reasonably be challenged”. The law identifies situations where “a person within the third degree of relationship” with the judge or his spouse is an officer or director of the company, a potential material witness, or someone who may be “materially affected” by the case.

© Thomson Reuters 2020

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