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US Justice Dept's Google advertising case gets fast-paced schedule

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Google LLC is seen at the Google Store Chelsea in New York City

By Mike Scarcella

(Reuters) - A federal judge on Friday set a fast-paced schedule in the U.S. Justice Department's antitrust lawsuit challenging Google LLC's digital advertising technology practices, moving the case along more quickly than either side had proposed.

U.S. Magistrate Judge John Anderson in Alexandria, Virginia, after a brief hearing issued an order setting Jan. 18, 2024, as the date when Alphabet Inc's Google and Justice Department lawyers must disclose factual evidence and experts reports. Lawyers for both sides had sought at least five additional months to prepare for trial.

The faster pace of the litigation could put additional pressure on both sides, but particularly on Google in building its defense, based on what the company in a court filing called an "imbalance" in the proceedings.

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Google argued that it needed more time because, unlike the Justice Department, it did not have the benefit of an investigation "with the federal government’s subpoena power."

Google told the judge that the case "presents complex and extremely consequential issues, the resolution of which will affect businesses across the United States."

The judge's order did not set a trial start.

A Justice Department spokesperson and a representative from Google had no comment on Friday.

The Justice Department and eight states filed the case in January, seeking to force Google to sell its ad manager suite, claiming that the company unlawfully curbed competition over advertising technology. The case is one of two Justice Department antitrust actions against Google.

The other, filed in October 2020 and challenging Google's search business, is set for a trial in Washington, D.C., federal court in September.

Google has denied the claims in both cases.

The Eastern District of Virginia is colloquially known as a "rocket docket" for its pace of proceedings.

U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema, assigned to the digital advertising case, will preside at the January pretrial conference.

(Reporting by Mike Scarcella; editing by Leigh Jones and Marguerita Choy)