Google files document production demand against one of its biggest public critics

Late Monday night, Google filed for a court order to produce documents from longtime Google critic Luther Lowe, as part of its ongoing federal antitrust case, US vs. Google.

The motion arises from an apparent breakdown in negotiations between Google and Lowe’s employer, Yelp. Yelp has agreed to document production from a number of its employees, but has resisted on Lowe in particular, leaving Google to ask the court for a subpoena that would compel email archives and other documents.

“Yelp’s allegations against Google conceived and advanced by Mr. Lowe, are a central part of the government’s case,” the filing reads. “Now that the very governmental action Yelp advocated for in its communications is underway, Yelp cannot deny Google the documents it needs to defend itself.” The 51 page filing, like many in the antitrust case, contains numerous redactions.

As vice president of public policy at Yelp, Lowe has long been a prominent voice pushing for antitrust action against Google, even launching an email newsletter called “This Week In Google Antitrust” to track support for action against the search giant. In public statements, Lowe has particularly focused on the search neutrality case against Google, alleging that the company uses the power of Google Search to co-opt and overwhelm subject-matter directories like Yelp.

This isn’t the first time Google has used the antitrust proceedings to compel document production from rivals. In July, the company pushed for significant new document production from Microsoft, after the company shared hundreds of thousands of documents with prosecutors in advance of the case’s filing.

Neither Google nor Lowe responded to a request to comment on the filing.

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