The DOJ case against Google will probably not be judged until the end of 2023, the judge says

The Google logo outside its New York offices, which were closed on May 19, 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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The Justice Department’s antitrust lawsuit against Google is unlikely to go to trial until the end of 2023, Judge Amit Mehta said at a state hearing on Friday.

Both sides agreed that this seems a likely timeline, and the judge set September 12, 2023, as the provisional date for the trial to begin.

The proposed timeline shows how long Google (and probably Facebook) will fight antitrust challenges from the US government. Google is now facing three lawsuits from different groups of states and the DOJ, some of which could be consolidated before the same judge.

This means that both control of Google’s business will remain in the spotlight for several years, and any potential changes ordered by the court would also take a long time. In the short term, this is good news for investors, who do not have to worry about immediate structural changes that could affect the value of the company, such as the decline of key business units. But it also means that Google will face a major distraction and could be tentative in terms of entering new business areas and making big acquisitions for years to come.

Mehta indicated at previous hearings on the state that he wants to keep the case moving fast. But the proposed term shows that even a relatively quick process can take years. A DOJ lawyer estimated that the trial could take ten to 12 weeks, although a lawyer for Google said he expected it to take much less time, assuming the case would be tried. Mehta said he sets the “above / below” line at five and a half weeks.

CLOCK: How US antitrust law works and what it means for Big Tech