The big Google DOJ antitrust case probably won’t go to trial until 2023

The Justice Department’s historic lawsuit against Google is moving along — albeit very, very slowly. In a status hearing Friday, U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta set a tentative date for the case. The good news and the bad news for both parties involved is that it’s more than two years away.

As CNBC reports, Mehta chose September 12, 2023 as the first day of the trial, which is expected to last weeks. That date could change, but with both the Justice Department and Google agreeing to that timeline it’s a pretty good estimate.

It might be years before the trial, but the DOJ’s lawsuit against Google, filed in October, is already hanging over Silicon Valley’s head. The suit focuses on Google’s search and ads business and accuses the company of maintaining illegal monopolies in those markets. A date in 2023 gives Google plenty of time to sharpen its defenses and do what it wants until then, but it also means the specter of a major regulatory threat will loom large for the foreseeable future.

States are also pursuing their own aggressive efforts to regulate the search giant, with two separate major multistate lawsuits similarly focused on Google’s search and advertising power filed this week. Last week, the state of California also asked to join the Justice Department’s lawsuit, with Michigan and Wisconsin following suit on Thursday.

“Their proposed joinder, along with the separate complaint filed today by a coalition of state Attorneys General, underscores the broad and bipartisan consensus that Google’s practices in search and search advertising need antitrust redress,” Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey A. Rosen said of the states deciding to join the suit.

The historic case is the first major federal antitrust action to hit a technology company since the U.S. pursued a case against Microsoft more than two decades ago. That case was settled in 2001, just three years after Google’s founding.

With few regulations in place to rein it in, the tech industry exploded over the course of the last 20 years. Silicon Valley’s innovations are now woven into every market and corner of society imaginable, making the era of the Microsoft antitrust saga looks downright quaint in comparison.