November 20, 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.

With AT&T and Time Warner, Battle Lines Form for an Epic Antitrust Case.  If the government goes to court to block the merger of AT&T and Time Warner, as seems increasingly likely, it may well be the antitrust case of the decade, even without the claims of presidential meddling that have already engulfed the deal in partisan controversy.  A lawsuit by the Justice Department, along with its earlier, widely reported demands that AT&T sell either DirecTV or Turner Broadcasting to gain approval for the deal, would mark a radical departure from decades of antitrust enforcement policy, both in defining what is an unlawful anticompetitive merger and in fashioning a remedy to cure the problems.

Qualcomm-NXP ruling may be in 2018: EU competition commissioner.  A ruling on Qualcomm Inc.’s proposed $38 billion acquisition of NXP Semiconductors NV may come in 2018, European Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager said on Wednesday.  People familiar with the matter told Reuters in October that Qualcomm has offered to buy NXP without some of its patents in a bid to win EU antitrust regulatory approval.

Missouri Opens Antitrust Investigation Into Google.  Missouri’s attorney general has opened an investigation into whether Google’s business practices violate its consumer protection and antitrust laws amid growing concern over the influence of powerful technology companies.  Josh Hawley, Missouri’s attorney general, said on Monday that his office had issued a subpoena to Google to seek information into the collection and use of users’ private information, the use of other content providers’ information on its sites and potential bias in search engine results.

Japanese regulators raid Airbnb over suspected antitrust practices.  Japanese fair trade regulators raided last month the offices of Airbnb Inc over suspected violations of antitrust laws, the home rental site said on Friday, denying any wrongdoing.  The Japan Fair Trade Commission carried out an on-site inspection of Airbnb and the company is cooperating with the regulators’ investigation, Airbnb Japan said.

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Categories: Antitrust Enforcement, Antitrust Litigation, International Competition Issues

    November 16, 2017

    North American Soccer League Misses Shot Seeking Preliminary Injunction, But Appeals the Ruling

    By David Scupp

    The North American Soccer League (“NASL”) lost an important preliminary match in court last week when the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York denied the league’s motion for a preliminary injunction that would have ordered the United States Soccer Federation (“USSF”) to designate the NASL as a “Division II” professional soccer league.

    NASL has appealed the ruling to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, which may rule on the league’s right to preliminary relief by early December.

    For years USSF—a non-profit, membership organization—has served as the de facto governing body for soccer in the United States, claiming that it derives its authority from the international governing body FIFA.

    USSF adopts, amends, and applies its Professional League Standards (“PLS”), a set of requirements for professional soccer leagues seeking Division I, II, or III designation in the United States.  The PLS include requirements related to the number of teams in a league, the geographic dispersion of teams, and certain financial obligations.  Division I status is the highest and most desirable status, and has been conferred only on Major League Soccer (“MLS”). click here for more »

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    Categories: Antitrust Litigation

      November 14, 2017

      Seventh Circuit Strikes Down Injunction, Finding No Duty to Deal in Big Data

      By Margaux Poueymirou

      Big Data may be revolutionizing companies’ processing of information, but legal disputes over such data management still have to navigate through the shoals of settled antirust principles.

      At least that’s the message of last week’s decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit vacating a preliminary injunction that required two companies, CDK Global, LLC (“CDK”) and Reynolds and Reynolds Co. (“Reynolds”), who collectively dominate the market for automobile dealership-management systems, to allow a third-party data-scraper, Authenticom, to access customers’ information.  The court held that the injunction ran afoul of antitrust law’s general disfavor of imposing a duty to deal as a remedy.

      This case arose when CDK changed from an open to a closed dealer-management system and entered into a series of agreements with its closed-system competitor Reynolds to facilitate this transition.  Dealer-management systems enable automotive dealerships to track efficiently vital business matters such as accounting, payroll, inventory, sales, parts, service, finance, and insurance.  Open systems enable third parties to access dealer-originated data embedded in the system, while closed systems forbid such data scraping. click here for more »

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      Categories: Antitrust Litigation

        November 6, 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.

        U.S. and AT&T discuss conditions for approval of Time Warner deal.  AT&T Inc. and the U.S. Department of Justice are discussing conditions the No. 2 wireless carrier needs to meet in order to win government antitrust approval for its acquisition of Time Warner Inc., sources familiar with the situation told Reuters on Thursday.  The $85.4 billion deal, unveiled in October 2016, is opposed by an array of consumer groups and competitors on the grounds that it would give the wireless company too much power over the media it would carry on its own network.  Wall Street largely believes the transaction will go through, but its success is not assured, and the issue has become a political battleground.

        States Seek to Expand Lawsuit Against Generic Drugmakers.  Connecticut’s attorney general and 45 of his colleagues are seeking to expand a federal antitrust lawsuit against generic drugmakers to include more manufacturers and medications, as well as senior executives at two companies.  Led by Connecticut, the states sought a federal court’s permission Tuesday to widen their complaint, which alleges a number of illegal agreements among 18 manufacturers to fix prices and divvy up the market for specific generic drugs including treatments for high blood pressure, arthritis and asthma.  Mylan N.V., one of the drugmakers named in the suit, said it has investigated the allegations thoroughly and “found no evidence of price fixing.”

        FTC judge rules against 1-800 Contacts on antitrust charges.  A Federal Trade Commission judge has ruled against the online seller 1-800 Contacts, which the agency accused of hammering out deals with rivals that made it harder for consumers to comparison shop, the agency said on Monday.  The FTC accused the company of reaching agreements with 14 other online contact lens retailers which required the companies to refrain from advertising to consumers who had searched online for 1-800 Contacts.  1-800 Contacts, in exchange, agreed to not advertise to people who searched for the rivals’ names.  The agreements hampered price-conscious consumers from finding rival contact lens sellers and checking their costs, the ruling said.

        Entercom wins U.S. antitrust OK to buy CBS Radio with conditions.  Entercom Communications Corp won U.S. antitrust approval to buy CBS Radio Inc. on condition that it divest 13 radio stations in Massachusetts and California, the Justice Department said on Wednesday.  Entercom will divest an additional five stations as part of a deal to win approval from the Federal Communications Commission, said a source close to the proposed transaction who requested anonymity to protect business relationships.  The proposed merger, announced in February, would allow CBS Corp. to combine its radio business with Entercom to create the second-largest U.S. radio broadcaster by revenue.

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        Categories: Antitrust Enforcement, Antitrust Litigation

          October 30, 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.

          Bayer: more antitrust asset sales on the cards after BASF deal.  Bayer said it expected antitrust authorities to make the planned acquisition of Monsanto conditional on more asset sales after agreeing to sell seed and herbicide businesses for 5.9 billion euro ($7 billion) to BASF.  “By no means did the deal that was signed with BASF constitute the totality of antitrust divestitures … The agencies will render their verdict on what the necessary remedies are.  It’s probably a first step and somewhat more is to come,” Chief Executive Werner Baumann told an analyst call on Thursday after the release of third-quarter results.

          Price-Fixing Inquiry Moves From BMW to Daimler and Volkswagen.  European Union investigators searched the offices of the German automakers Daimler and Volkswagen — the second such action in recent days as part of an inquiry into allegations of illegal collusion by the country’s car giants.  Regulators are looking into whether Germany’s three major vehicle manufacturers — BMW, Daimler and Volkswagen — worked together to fix the prices of various vehicle equipment, including design aspects that help control emissions.  The searches came as the companies face a backlash over their efforts to evade rules on diesel emissions.

          CVS makes more than $66 billion bid for Aetna: sources.  U.S. pharmacy operator CVS Health Corp has made an offer to acquire No. 3 U.S. health insurer Aetna Inc for more than $200 per share, or over $66 billion, people familiar with the matter said on Thursday.  A deal would merge one of the nation’s largest pharmacy benefits managers and pharmacy operators with one of its oldest health insurers, whose far-reaching business ranges from employer healthcare to government plans nationwide.  A tie-up with Aetna could give CVS more leverage in its price negotiations with drug makers. But it would also subject it to more antitrust scrutiny.

          Fiat Chrysler sues shippers over alleged price fixing.  Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV has lodged a complaint with a U.S. regulator seeking “reparations” from a group of shipping companies from Asia, Europe and South America that admitted to fixing prices for shipping vehicles, according to documents made public on Monday.  The automaker wants the Federal Maritime Commission to order payments from Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics AS and its sister company EUKOR Car Carriers Inc, Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha, Mitsui O.S.K. Lines Ltd, Compania Sud Americana de Vapores VAP.SN, Hoegh Autoliners AS and affiliated companies.  The auto maker said it and its corporate predecessors have purchased “hundreds of millions of dollars” in delivery services and none of the firms have compensated it or other victims “of their illegal activities.”

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          Categories: Antitrust and Price Fixing, Antitrust Enforcement, Antitrust Litigation, International Competition Issues

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