February 10, 2015

European Antitrust Watchdogs Warn Of Uncertain Future For Pay-For-Delay Settlements

A View from Constantine Cannon’s London Office

By Irene Fraile

A recent lively discussion with European Commission competition officials indicates that antitrust enforcement is continuing to evolve to deal with the thorny issues raised by so-called “reverse-payment” or “pay-for-delay” patent litigation settlements designed to delay the sale of generic drugs.

On January 29, 2015, Brussels Matters (which hosts informal discussions with senior EU officials) hosted the first pan-EU discussion with officials from the European Commission’s Directorate General for Competition (“DG COMP”) after the Commission’s Lundbeck decision, which imposed hefty fines for entering into pay-for-delay agreements that violated EU antitrust rules that prohibit anticompetitive agreements.

In that June 19, 2013, decision, the Commission imposed a fine of 93.8 million euros on the Danish pharmaceutical company Lundbeck and fines totalling 52.2 million euros on several producers of generic medicines for delaying generic market entry of the drug Citalopram.  This was the first EU infringement decision concerning pay-for-delay agreements.

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Categories: Antitrust and Intellectual Property Law, Antitrust Enforcement, Antitrust Policy

    February 5, 2015

    Feds Green-Light Institute’s New Patent Policy For Wi-Fi Standards, Finding It Potentially Procompetitive

    By David Golden

    The Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice announced on Monday that it would not challenge recent revisions to the Patent Policy of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Standards Association (“IEEE-SA”)—giving the green light to new Wi-Fi standards that computers, smartphones and tablets will follow in connecting to the Internet.

    The Antitrust Division’s decision removes one of the last barriers to the implementation of the revised Patent Policy, which governs the licensing of patents essential to IEEE standards, such as the ubiquitous Wi-Fi networking protocols.  The changes could lead to cheaper devices for consumers.

    We blogged about the IEEE-SA’s preliminary adoption of the changes earlier this year, following a Federal Circuit decision that required trial courts to consider a standard-setting organization’s patent-licensing policy when calculating patent royalty rates and damages.  The IEEE-SA submitted its revised policy to the government under the Antitrust Division’s Business Review  program.

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    Categories: Antitrust and Intellectual Property Law, Antitrust Policy

      January 5, 2015

      Reasonableness Of Licensing Royalties Is On Trial As Courts And Standard-Setting Organizations Wrestle With Standard-Essential Patents

      By David Golden

      The ongoing battle over what constitutes a “reasonable” licensing royalty for standard-essential patents has now been joined by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit with its decision in Ericsson, Inc. v. D-Link Systems, Inc., concerning the alleged infringement of patents essential to the ubiquitous Wi-Fi networking technology.

      This definitional battle is also being fought in standard-setting organizations, such as the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (“IEEE”), the promulgator of Wi-Fi standards, which recently adopted a resolution that defines the calculation of a “Reasonable Rate” for standard-essential patents.

      Many modern electronic devices, such as smartphones and tablets, incorporate voluntary industry-wide communication and networking standards, such as Wi-Fi, cellular data, and Bluetooth technologies. Generally, the members of organizations that create and maintain such standards compete in the markets for these products, and frequently own patents that are essential to the implementation of the standards. Thus, the member companies’ collective selection of technologies to include in the organization’s standard can prove advantageous in both product and technology licensing markets. It is not surprising then that the Supreme Court has described private industry standard-setting organizations as “rife with opportunities for anticompetitive activity.”

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      Categories: Antitrust and Intellectual Property Law

        September 25, 2014

        Antitrust Regulators Taking Aim At Drug Companies’ “Forced Switching”

        By Rosa M. Morales

        Signs continue to accumulate that antitrust regulators are on the lookout for innovative anticompetitive tactics by pharmaceutical companies seeking to delay entry of lower-priced generic drugs.

        This growing interest by federal and state regulators in policing the anticompetitive suppression of generic drugs was the subject of a recent post on this blog by Ankur Kapoor.  Among the antitrust enforcement actions analyzed was a reverse-payment case filed earlier this month by the New York State Attorney General against Actavis and its recently acquired, wholly-owned subsidiary Forest Laboratories.

        In recent comments, Eric Stock, chief of the Antitrust Bureau of the New York State Attorney General’s Office shed light on what antitrust enforcers may be looking at when he discussed “forced switching” – one of the anticompetitive tactics used by the pharmaceutical companies that is attracting the interest of antitrust enforcers.  “Forced switching” occurs when pharmaceutical companies “force” the use of new branded drugs by either pulling older branded versions from the market or reducing their supply.

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        Categories: Antitrust and Intellectual Property Law, Antitrust Litigation

          August 7, 2014

          Federal Court Denies Class Certification In Intel Antitrust Litigation

          By David Golden

          Plaintiffs in the long-running In re Intel Corporation Microprocessor Antitrust Litigation class action have suffered a major setback with last week’s denial of class certification by the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware.

          The lawsuit, filed in 2005, alleges that Intel illegally excluded its major rival, Advanced Micro Devices (commonly referred to as “AMD”), from the U.S. market for x86 computer microprocessors[1] by paying computer manufacturers “loyalty payments” and “rebates” to use only Intel chips. The proposed class is compromised of indirect purchasers that bought computers that contained Intel microprocessors. The plaintiffs contend Intel’s payments to computer manufacturers reduced competition for chips, and ultimately raised the prices consumers paid for computers.

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          Categories: Antitrust and Intellectual Property Law, Antitrust Litigation

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