September 11, 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.

EU regulators halt review of Qualcomm-NXP deal for second time.  EU antitrust regulators have halted for a second time their review of U.S. smartphone chipmaker Qualcomm’s $38-billion bid for NXP Semiconductors after the companies failed to provide key details of the deal.  The European Commission paused its investigation on Aug. 17, a filing on its website showed.  It had previously set a Dec. 6 deadline for its decision.  “Once the missing information is supplied by the parties, the clock is re-started and the deadline for the Commission’s decision is then adjusted accordingly,” EU competition regulators said in an email.

EU Top Court Orders Reexamination of Intel Antitrust Fine.  The European Union’s top court on Wednesday sent back a case on a billion euro fine against chip maker Intel Corp. for further legal examination.  Wednesday’s ruling had been eagerly awaited for its implications on the powers of the antitrust office of the EU.  Now the case could be in limbo for months, if not years.

Apple lawsuits against Qualcomm can proceed, U.S. judge rules.  Apple Inc.’s 11 foreign lawsuits against Qualcomm Inc. can proceed while the company’s dispute plays out in the United States, a U.S. federal judge in San Diego ruled.  Qualcomm and Apple are facing off in federal court over Qualcomm’s licensing for modem chips, which provide mobile data connectivity to devices like the iPhone.  Because those chips have become a standard across the mobile phone industry, Qualcomm is required to license them on fair terms.

Trump’s antitrust pick meets with Elizabeth Warren: source.  Senator Elizabeth Warren, a Democrat from Massachusetts, met on Wednesday with President Donald Trump’s pick to run the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division, where she pressed him on political interference in antitrust and lobbying, according to a source familiar with the discussions.  The source did not say if the meeting was sufficient to convince Warren to support Makan Delrahim.  She has reportedly put a “hold” on his confirmation to be assistant attorney general.

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Categories: Antitrust Enforcement, Antitrust Litigation, International Competition Issues

    August 22, 2017

    Big Data Companies Likely To Come Under Increased Antitrust Scrutiny

    By Elizabeth Taras

    Big data companies may become increasingly embroiled in antitrust litigation if last week’s decision by Judge Edward M. Chen of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, granting hiQ Labs, Inc. a preliminary injunction against LinkedIn Corp., is any omen.

    The injunction that the court granted in the case of hiQ Labs, Inc. v. LinkedIn Corp. prohibits LinkedIn from preventing hiQ’s access to LinkedIn users’ public profile data.  Although it is only a preliminary finding, the decision highlights a business sector that will likely see increased antitrust enforcement in the coming years: companies that amass user data.

    HiQ, the plaintiff, is a startup that provides businesses with statistical analyses of LinkedIn users’ public profile information.  HiQ’s business is therefore “wholly dependent on LinkedIn’s public data.”  According to hiQ’s complaint, LinkedIn issued a cease and desist, demanding that hiQ stop “unauthorized data scraping,” and threatened to sue hiQ under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) for accessing LinkedIn users’ public profile data.  HiQ claims that LinkedIn also employed various blocking techniques, preventing its access.

    HiQ brought the lawsuit to allow it to continue to access the public LinkedIn data, relying primarily on California’s common law and Unfair Competition Law.  Importantly, hiQ alleged that LinkedIn’s decision to block its access was motivated by LinkedIn’s desire to create a competing product.  Additionally, hiQ asked the court to declare that it was not violating the CFAA or the Digital Millennium Copyright Act by accessing the public LinkedIn data.

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    Categories: Antitrust Litigation

      August 21, 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.

      Deutsche Bank, Bank of America settle agency bond rigging lawsuits.  Deutsche Bank AG and Bank of America Corp agreed to pay a combined $65.5 million to settle investor litigation accusing large banks of rigging the roughly $9 trillion government agency bond market over a decade.  Preliminary settlements totaling $48.5 million for Deutsche Bank and $17 million for Bank of America were filed on Thursday with the U.S. District Court in Manhattan, and require a judge’s approval.  The settlements were the first in litigation accusing 10 banks of engaging in a “brazen conspiracy” to rig the market for U.S. dollar-denominated supranational, sub-sovereign and agency bonds, court papers show.

      Slim’s America Movil Wins Telecom Battle in Top Mexico Court.  Mexico’s Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled billionaire Carlos Slim’s telecommunications company America Movil should not be barred by law from charging competitors certain fees, prompting fears of a rollback of a sweeping antitrust reform.  The 2014 telecom industry reform, one of Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto’s signature accomplishments, prohibited America Movil from charging other carriers for calls made to customers on its network, even though those firms are allowed to bill America Movil for using their networks.

      U.S. Pension Funds Sue Goldman, JPMorgan, Others Over Stock Lending Market.  Three U.S. pension funds sued six of the world’s largest banks on Thursday, including Goldman Sachs Group Inc and JP Morgan Chase & Co, accusing them of conspiring to stifle competition in the more than $1 trillion stock lending market. In the lawsuit filed in a Manhattan federal court, the funds accused the banks of boycotting start-up lending platforms by threatening and intimidating their potential clients. The defendants include Bank of America Corp, Credit Suisse AG, Morgan Stanley, UBS AG, Goldman and JP Morgan.

      Air Berlin assets to go to more than one buyer: German government official.  A senior German government official was quoted as saying on Thursday that the assets of insolvent Air Berlin could not be bought by any one competitor due to regulatory reasons.  “It is quite clear that there won’t be a takeover of Air Berlin by a single airline,” Deputy Economy Minister Matthias Machnig told German media group Funke.  “This is necessary and correct for antitrust and competitive reasons,” he added.

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      Categories: Antitrust Enforcement, Antitrust Litigation, International Competition Issues

        August 14, 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.

        Citigroup to pay $130 mln to end Libor rigging lawsuit in U.S. Citigroup Inc has agreed to pay $130 million to settle private U.S. antitrust litigation accusing it of conspiring with rivals to manipulate the Libor benchmark interest rate. The bank is the second to resolve claims by so-called “over-the-counter” investors that transacted directly with banks on a panel to determine Libor, according to filings late Monday with the U.S. District Court in Manhattan. Barclays Plc, the British bank, reached a similar settlement in November 2015 for $120 million.

        Bush-Era FTC Official Is Trump Favorite for Chief: Source. President Donald Trump’s leading choice to run the Federal Trade Commission is a Washington lawyer who served at the agency as a top official under President George W. Bush, a person briefed on the matter said on Wednesday. Joseph Simons, a partner at the law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton and Garrison LLP, is the leading choice to run the FTC over Acting FTC chairman Maureen Ohlhausen, who has been running the agency since January.

        Developers file antitrust complaint against Apple in China. A Chinese law firm has filed a complaint against Apple Inc on behalf of 28 local developers alleging the firm breached antitrust regulations. The complaint, lodged by Beijing-based Dare & Sure Law Firm, accuses Apple of charging excessive fees and removing apps from its local store without proper explanation, Lin Wei, an attorney at the firm told Reuters on Thursday.

        Kaspersky Lab to withdraw Microsoft antitrust complaints. Moscow-based cyber security firm Kaspersky Lab said on Wednesday it would withdraw antitrust complaints made in Europe against Microsoft after the U.S. technology giant agreed to change how it delivers security updates to Windows users. Both companies simultaneously announced a resolution to nearly a year of disputes that included Kaspersky alleging that Microsoft had erected unfair obstacles for independent security vendors on its Windows 10 operating system.

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        Categories: Antitrust Enforcement, Antitrust Litigation, International Competition Issues

          August 7, 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.

          Morgan Stanley, RBC, others settle currency rigging lawsuit in U.S.  Morgan Stanley, Royal Bank of Canada and three other banks agreed to pay a combined $111.2 million to settle U.S. litigation accusing them of rigging prices in the roughly $5 trillion-a-day foreign exchange market.  The preliminary settlements were detailed in filings late Friday in the U.S. District Court in Manhattan, and require a judge’s approval.  Fourteen of the 16 banks that were sued have settled, for a total payout of $2.12 billion, court papers show.

          EU Sends Charge Sheet to Visa Over Inter-Regional Fees.  The European Commission said on Thursday it had sent a charge sheet to credit card group Visa over the fees merchants have to pay when customers from outside the bloc make purchases in the European Union.  In 2014, the Commission ended another investigation into the company’s fee structure when Visa Europe agreed to cap the transaction fees it charged.  The Commission said it was now looking at so-called inter-regional interchange fees, those charged to merchants when accepting Visa cards issued outside the European Economic Area (EEA), for example when tourists make purchases in the EU.

          Starz: AT&T’s Time Warner Deal Would Steer Customers Away From Us.  The premium movie channel Starz criticized AT&T’s plan to buy Time Warner on Wednesday, saying the megadeal would give AT&T the clout to steer customers away from Starz and toward its own premium channels.  The $85 billion deal, which was announced in October, would give AT&T control of such Time Warner properties as HBO and CNN, the film studio Warner Bros and other coveted media assets.

          BMW reassured top staff about cartel allegations: sources.  Germany’s BMW has told its top managers that regulators probing reports of collusion among German carmakers will find the allegations hard to justify, two sources familiar with the matter said.  German magazine Der Spiegel reported last month that BMW, Mercedes, Porsche, Audi, and Volkswagen may have used industry committee meetings to fix the size of tanks for AdBlue, a liquid used to treat nitrogen oxide in diesel emissions.

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          Categories: Antitrust Enforcement, Antitrust Litigation, International Competition Issues

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