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.