Judge Kicks Off Scheduling in Google Antitrust Case

Laveta Brigham

WASHINGTON—The federal judge presiding over the Justice Department’s antitrust case against Google held a first scheduling hearing Friday, with the search giant arguing it needs quick access to the government’s investigation files before it can decide on its next steps in litigation. The department sued Google last week, taking aim […]

WASHINGTON—The federal judge presiding over the Justice Department’s antitrust case against Google held a first scheduling hearing Friday, with the search giant arguing it needs quick access to the government’s investigation files before it can decide on its next steps in litigation.

The department sued Google last week, taking aim at the heart of the company’s search business. It alleges Google is using exclusionary deals and other tactics to prevent anyone from challenging its dominance in search and search advertising. Google, a unit of Alphabet Inc., denies the allegations and called the government’s case misguided.

U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta, in a 45-minute telephone hearing, previewed several preliminary issues on the horizon. The judge said Google’s initial written answer to the Justice Department’s lawsuit was due in mid-December, but he asked whether the company might first seek to file a motion to dismiss the case instead.

Google lawyer John Schmidtlein of law firm Williams & Connolly said the company hadn’t yet made a decision on that question but would be able to give the judge a better idea of its plans by Nov. 13.

Mr. Schmidtlein said Google was eager to get several preliminary issues addressed, most importantly obtaining access to the material the Justice Department generated during its 16-month investigation that led to the lawsuit.

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