WASHINGTON—The judge overseeing the Justice Department’s antitrust lawsuit against Google said he hoped to set an initial schedule for the case in December, while a government lawyer indicated the department had more than 100 potential witnesses.
During a brief telephone hearing Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta said he wanted to hammer out a schedule with both sides before the holidays so Google and the government could begin the process of legal discovery, gathering information and exchanging materials about evidence that may be presented at trial.
The Justice Department sued Google, a unit of Alphabet Inc., on Oct. 20, alleging the company uses anticompetitive tactics to preserve a monopoly for its flagship search engine and related advertising business. The company denies the allegations, saying it holds its market position because users like its products and services.
Google lawyer John Schmidtlein said Wednesday the search giant needed more information quickly about the materials the Justice Department already gathered during its more than yearlong investigation, especially what was produced to the government by third-party companies. Until Google has that information, it will have a hard time committing to how much time it will need to prepare its defense, Mr. Schmidtlein said.
The parties are set to make some initial disclosures to one another on Friday. Justice Department lawyer Kenneth Dintzer said Google will see from those disclosures that the government has a list of more than 100 potential witnesses in the case. Separately, Mr. Dintzer told the judge that a bipartisan group of state attorneys general will decide soon whether to file their own antitrust lawsuit against Google. If they do, that group would seek to consolidate their case with the Justice Department’s, he said.