January 16, 2018

The Antitrust Week In Review

Here are some of the developments in antitrust news this past week that we found interesting and are following.

Live Nation Settles Suit With Ticketing Start-Up, Buying Its Assets.  Two years ago, Songkick, a ticketing start-up that operated out of a loft in Brooklyn, filed an antitrust suit against Live Nation Entertainment, the colossus of the concert business.  The David-and-Goliath suit included accusations of abuse of market power by Live Nation and its Ticketmaster subsidiary.  But on Friday, less than two weeks before the start of a trial, Live Nation announced that it had settled the suit for $110 million and an additional undisclosed sum to acquire some of Songkick’s remaining technology assets and patents.

Department of Justice Probes Admissions Ethics Code.  The U.S. Department of Justice has launched an investigation into whether the ethics code of the National Association for College Admission Counseling violates federal antitrust law.  The department has sent information requests to NACAC and to professionals from various schools and colleges who were involved in drafting the new version of the ethics code, which was adopted last year.  The letter from the department, a copy of which has been obtained by Inside Higher Ed, states that the investigation pertains to a possible agreement “to restrain trade among colleges and universities in the recruitment of students.”

Jaguar Land Rover Escapes Antitrust Suit Over Ban on Overseas Resale.  A federal judge has dismissed an antitrust suit challenging Jaguar Land Rover’s ban on overseas resale of vehicles it sells to U.S. customers.  The suit was brought on behalf of U.S. owners of Jaguars and Land Rovers, and asserts that they could resell their vehicles in China or Russia for three or four times their cost here if not for a no-export policy the company imposes on new car buyers.  The suit asserts that the vehicles’ manufacturer requires its U.S. dealers to enforce the policy, and dealers that fail to do so are given a reduced allocation of vehicles.  But the complaint fails because the plaintiff did not establish a concerted action by the defendants that produced anti-competitive effects within the relevant product and geographic markets, U.S. District Judge William Martini of the District of New Jersey ruled, dismissing the suit with prejudice.

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Categories: Antitrust Enforcement, Antitrust Litigation, International Competition Issues

    January 8, 2018

    The Antitrust Week In Review

    Here are some of the developments in antitrust news this past week that we found interesting and are following.

    Southwest Airlines Settles Suit but Denies Colluding to Keep Ticket Prices High.  A federal judge has approved a $15 million settlement between Southwest Airlines and members of a class-action lawsuit who allege that the company, along with three other airlines, conspired to limit the number of seats available to customers and keep ticket prices high.  In a statement, Southwest said the settlement “does not constitute any admission of wrongdoing” and denied having entered into any unlawful agreements with its competitors.  The move appeared to represent a break of sorts between Southwest and the other three defendants named in the lawsuit:  American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines.  Those companies have also denied doing anything illegal, and they continue to fight the allegations.

    EU Asks:  Does Control of ‘Big Data’ Kill Competition?  European Union antitrust regulators are taking a hard look at an increasingly important corporate currency: data.  The EU’s competition chief is focusing on how companies stockpile and use so-called big data, the enormous computer files of customer records, industry statistics and other information.  The attention diverges starkly from a hands-off approach in the U.S., where regulators emphasize how big data can generate innovation.

    Lawsuit:  Duke, UNC Agreed to Not Hire Each Other’s Doctors.  The basketball rivalry between Duke University and the University of North Carolina battle is legendary, but a federal lawsuit says the two elite institutions have agreed not to compete in another prestigious area:  the market for highly skilled medical workers.  The antitrust complaint by a former Duke radiologist accuses the schools just 10 miles (16 kilometers) apart of secretly conspiring to avoid poaching each other’s professors.  If her lawyers succeed in persuading a judge to make it a class action, thousands of faculty, physicians, nurses and other professionals could be affected.

    Argentina approves Telecom ‘quadruple play’ services.  Argentina’s communications regulator Enacom said on Friday it had signed off on new rules allowing companies to offer so-called quadruple play services that include landlines, mobile phones, pay television and the internet.  Approval had been expected in early 2018 after phone company Telecom Argentina SA and Cablevision SA, an internet, cable TV and data transmission company, reached a merger agreement in July.  Enacom also said on Friday it had authorized mobile phone providers Claro and Telefonica licenses to offer pay television and radio services in select cities in Argentina.

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    Categories: Antitrust Enforcement, Antitrust Litigation, International Competition Issues

      January 2, 2018

      The Antitrust Week In Review

      Here are some of the developments in antitrust news this past week that we found interesting and are following.

      Ramen price-fixing class action headed for U.S. trial.  A federal judge in San Francisco has refused to dismiss antitrust class action litigation accusing two big South Korean ramen producers of conspiring to fix prices in the United States, clearing the way for a trial.  U.S. District Judge William Orrick on Thursday rejected efforts by market leader Nongshim Co. and Ottogi Corp. to dismiss claims brought by food retailers and distributors, and by consumers in 23 U.S. states and Washington, D.C.

      Google Extends Commitments Stemming From U.S. Antitrust Case.  Alphabet Inc.’s Google said it will extend commitments made five years ago to U.S. antitrust officials related to how developers use its advertising platform and the scraping of third-party content in search results.  The internet search giant said in a blog post that it will continue the practices that were about to expire, saying they provide “additional flexibility” to developers and web sites.

      Can Disney’s Bid for Fox Overcome Antitrust Concerns?  The Walt Disney Co. is acquiring most of the assets of 21st Century Fox for $52.4 billion in stock, or $66.1 billion after the assumption of debt, creating a content behemoth that will have the power to reshape the sports and entertainment landscapes.  Their combined heft will give them even more leverage over cable companies and internet service providers while strengthening their online video streaming services, according to experts at Wharton and elsewhere.

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      Categories: Antitrust Enforcement, Antitrust Litigation, Antitrust Policy

        December 26, 2017

        The Antitrust Week In Review

        Here are some of the developments in antitrust news this past week that we found interesting and are following.

        Apple Hit With $25K Per Day Fine in Qualcomm Antitrust Case.  Apple is being fined $25,000 per day for missing a court-imposed deadline to produce evidence in a government lawsuit that alleges mobile chip supplier Qualcomm has been imposing unfair licensing terms on the makers of smartphones.  The fine imposed Thursday by a federal magistrate judge in San Jose, California, is retroactive to Dec. 16 and will remain in effect until Dec. 29.  If Apple hasn’t produced all 1.3 million documents covered by an order issued in October, U.S. Magistrate Judge Nathanael Cousins intends to increase the fine.

        Disney backs Fox’s request for more data protection in antitrust trial.  Walt Disney Co joined Twenty-First Century Fox Inc on Wednesday in asking the judge hearing AT&T Inc’s antitrust case to strengthen an order aimed at keeping its data private if it is used at trial next year.  Disney and Fox have given data to the Justice Department that is being used to build a case against AT&T’s bid to buy Time Warner Inc.  The companies say they fear that executives with AT&T, which owns satellite TV provider DirecTV, could inadvertently gain access to it during the trial.

        Talent Company Wants Ex-Football Star’s Lawsuit Tossed.  Efforts by a former Ohio State and NFL football star to expand his antitrust lawsuit over alleged improper use of ex-players’ images are futile and the complaint should be tossed out, talent management company IMG said in a court filing.  The dozens of colleges and universities targeted by ex-linebacker turned broadcaster Chris Spielman are immune from such lawsuits, and Spielman hasn’t shown how former football players at these schools have been prevented from marketing their own likeness, IMG said in the filing in federal court in Columbus.

        Japan’s Taisei Corp raided by prosecutors over alleged antitrust violations.  Tokyo prosecutors raided the headquarters of Japan’s Taisei Corp on Wednesday over alleged antitrust violations linked to $80 billion worth of magnetic levitation train line projects, a company spokesman said.  Shares in Taisei, one of the so-called “big four” group of Japanese construction firms involved in the maglev project, fell as much as 5 percent on reports of the raid.  Peers Shimizu Corp and Kajima Corp have also been raided on suspicion of antitrust breaches related to the projects.

         

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        Categories: Antitrust Litigation

          December 18, 2017

          The Antitrust Week In Review

          Here are some of the developments in antitrust news this past week that we found interesting and are following.

          AT&T vs. Disney: How the Trump Administration May View 2 Mega-Mergers.  AT&T’s proposed $85.4 billion acquisition of Time Warner would normally have had a good chance of passing muster with antitrust officials in Washington.  Disney’s bid to purchase 21st Century Fox for $52.4 billion, on the other hand, would have had a smaller chance.  But in a break from the norm, the Justice Department has sued to block the AT&T-Time Warner deal, and has so far remained silent on the Disney-Fox deal.

          EU antitrust official sees competition threat if mergers lead to high margins.  EU regulators are keeping tabs on high profit margins enjoyed by companies that are merging, concerned this may threaten competition, a senior EU antitrust official warned on Tuesday.  The comments by Chief Competition Economist Tommaso Valletti underline current unease among antitrust enforcers on both sides of the Atlantic about whether they have gone too far in allowing a recent wave of mergers and acquisitions.  Some have resulted in significant price hikes, to the detriment of consumers.

          U.S. employers say CVS-Aetna deal would affect health-benefits decisions: survey.  CVS Corp.’s proposed purchase of Aetna Inc. will affect decision-making by a majority of large and mid-size U.S. corporations on employee health benefits, a survey by benefits consultant Aon Plc found.  CVS, the second-largest U.S. pharmacy benefit manager, on Dec. 3 said it agreed to buy No. 3 health insurer Aetna for $69 billion.  Reuters reported earlier this month that the deal would change the way top U.S. employers contract health benefits, based on early feedback from benefits consultants.

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          Categories: Antitrust Enforcement, Antitrust Litigation, International Competition Issues

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