Wednesday, February 1, 2023

States, Epic Games et al. v. Google jury trial over app store rules scheduled for November 6--another major Google antitrust trial (first DOJ case) starts on September 12

"Remember, remember, the 5th 6th of November" (and the 12th of September):

  • Judge James Donato of the United States District has formally approved a case schedule negotiated between Google and the Google Play Store antitrust plaintiffs (three dozen U.S. states, Epic Games, Match Group, and a consumer class action) and set the In Re Google Play Store Antitrust Litigation (case no. 3:22-cv-2746-JD, N.D. Cal.) jury trial in San Francisco for November 6, 2023.

    This means the trial will be interrupted by the Thanksgiving holiday (November 23), though it is unclear whether the trial will be interrupted for a full week or just a very long weekend.

  • As previously reported, Google already has a huge antitrust trial coming up in the last third of this year: on September 12, the United States et al. v. Google trial in the District of Columbia will go ahead.

    That case has already impacted the California app store case because of the information the three dozen state AGs obtained through discovery in the D.C. case.

    Google has moved for summary judgment against the DOJ and the state AGs, who have meanwhile filed their opposition briefs, which are sealed for the time being. When Google filed public redacted versions of its SJ motions, I provided an overview of its theories. I don't expect the whole case to go away, so the September trial is going to happen in one form or another.

    It will be a "trying" final third of the year for Google's legal department as the stakes are extremely high in either one of those antitrust cases. The DOJ and eight states recently filed another Google antitrust complaint (over adtech).

The hearing minutes in which Judge Donato stated his approval of the November 6 trial date are primarily about the continued fight over sanctions that may be imposed on Google for systematically moving sensitive discussions to chats that were then automatically deleted after 24 hours. The governmental and private plaintiffs were able to show some smoking guns. Judge Donato has ordered further productions and would like the parties to "meet and confer about which of the relevant custodians still have their history setting turned to 'off' for any of their chats, and whether Google should now change those default history settings to 'on' for the core set of relevant custodians as the parties agree." It looks like some spoliation-of-evidence sanctions are rather likely, and the question may just be how impactful they will be.