Here are some of the developments in antitrust news this past week that we found interesting and are following.
New FTC chair wants to look at market power of big internet companies. Joseph Simons, the new chairman of the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC), said on Wednesday that the agency would keep a close eye on big tech companies that dominate the internet. Simons said the power of the big tech platforms – none of which he cited by name – raised new questions about competition and privacy. “It makes it very appropriate for it to be the subject of hearings and for us to get input on that,” he said at a question session with reporters. Controversies surrounding Facebook and Alphabet Inc., Google’s parent company, have led to calls for the FTC to look more closely at whether these companies use their market power to hurt potential rivals.
Hawaii, Japan Airlines Seek OK to Coordinate Flights. Hawaiian Airlines and Japan Airlines have submitted paperwork seeking to join forces to potentially bring hundreds of thousands of more people to Hawaii. The airlines have recently filed an application with the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Japanese government requesting immunity from antitrust laws to create a joint venture, West Hawaii Today reported. The partnership would allow the companies to coordinate flight schedules and share certain costs and revenues as well as work together on marketing and advertising, the airlines said in the filings.
U.S. top court mulls Apple’s App Store commissions in antitrust case. The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to take up Apple Inc.’s bid to escape a lawsuit accusing it of breaking federal antitrust laws by monopolizing the market for iPhone software applications and causing consumers to pay more than they should. The justices said they would hear Apple’s appeal of a lower court’s ruling that revived the proposed class-action lawsuit by iPhone buyers over commissions that the Cupertino, California-based technology company receives through its App Store. The case could expand the threat of antitrust damages against companies in the rapidly growing field of electronic commerce, which generates hundreds of billions of dollars annually in U.S. retail sales.
EU sees signs of improvement after Google antitrust shopping case. It is too early to judge Google’s reforms in response to an antitrust case over online shopping, though there are signs some rivals are benefiting, Europe’s competition chief said. The comments from European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager come amid calls from Google’s competitors for her to take more drastic action against the world’s most popular internet search engine. A year after being hit with a record 2.4-billion-euro ($2.8 billion) fine by the European Commission, Google has yet to create a level playing field, according to rivals such as British comparison shopping sites Foundem and Kelkoo and others in the travel search, digital mapping and publishing markets.