Microsoft has the right to sue millions of documents in Google antitrust litigation

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Extensive federal competition litigation against Google has sparked a significant battle over the information held by Microsoft, and the company is now challenged to search millions of documents that could enlighten its companies to compete with Google’s search engine. Because Microsoft had originally partnered with prosecutors to build a competition lawsuit against Google, Microsoft may have to produce millions of other documents at the request of Google’s defense team.

Judge Amit Mehta heard both Google’s and Microsoft’s arguments on the matter in a situation scene on Friday morning, but ultimately said more information was needed before the court could give guidance on how much internal information Microsoft needs to produce.

“These are difficult issues that every judge can resolve in an objective and meaningful way,” Mehta told lawyers, “and this is especially important given that with regard to additional guardians, I have no idea of ​​the amount or amount that would mean in production. timing. “

Archived in October 2020, the Department of Justice’s antitrust law against Google focuses on anti-competitive behavior in search and search advertising, arguing, among other things, that the company’s exclusive agreements on Android and iOS devices exclude competing search engines. Separate antitrust cases have also been filed against Google, focusing on the company’s operations browser privacy settings and alleged manipulation of search results.

Prior to prosecuting the Department of Justice, Microsoft submitted more than 400,000 documents to prosecutors’ civil investigation claims. In an application made before today’s hearing, Google claimed that participation entitles the company to obtain similar documents that may help defend it.

“No third party is more central to this lawsuit than Microsoft. The DOJ and Colorado complaints refer to it or its products dozens of times, ”the Google Archive says. “Because Microsoft has been so clearly pressured and cooperating in preparing these complaints against Google, Microsoft cannot credibly avoid a significant finding in these cases.”

Google first sent a challenge to Microsoft in April looking for “older documents that shed light on whether Microsoft was actually prevented from competing with Google or whether it simply failed to compete successfully.” However, Microsoft agreed to search only eight of the 27 executives and severely restricted the search activities they would encounter. Google is now asking for a more effective court order to force the documents from Microsoft.

Attached to its application, Google lists 19 current and former Microsoft executives who may have case-related communications, including Andrew Lees, former head of Windows Phone, and former Windows head Terry Myerson.

“These leaders cover things that are at the heart of the matter: the development and distribution of Microsoft’s various search engines, Microsoft’s search advertising business, and Microsoft’s effort to market devices that would give it more and more search points outside of the existing Windows desktop,” the archive reads. , which corresponds to the applicants’ arguments dating back two decades. “

In its own archiving, Microsoft opposed this logic, arguing that Google will send unnecessarily large requests so that the case can be further postponed. “Over the past nine days, Google has actually proposed seventeen more custodians, “Microsoft Application Documents,” including nine on July 19, five on July 26, and three today, July 27. Google has not explained why it considers it necessary to search for these two twenty-eight additional custodians.

The court weighed these two arguments and seemed to favor Google’s case somewhat, but eventually asked for more information on the burden of producing the documents. “Description of people [Google has] As extra guardians, I was suspected that I did not reach them, ”Judge Mehta said,“ and I have not heard Microsoft say today that they have a minimal chance that they are likely to have responsive and relevant records. “

However, the court ultimately found that there was insufficient information on the burden of production, and the dispute is likely to continue until at least August 20, which is the deadline for submitting additional issues.

“The best I can do for you today is to give you a deadline within which you must return concrete information to me,” Judge Mehta told the parties.

The observation is yet another turning point in what is likely to be a long and controversial observation period in the case of competition law. Microsoft says it believes the first phase of its own document production will last at least until October this year. Litigation United States v. Google is scheduled to begin on September 12, 2023.

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