June 16, 2014

EU General Court Upholds Record 1.06 Billion Euro Antitrust Fine Against Intel

A View from Constantine Cannon’s London Office

By Irene Fraile

The General Court of the European Union has dismissed Intel’s appeal of the European Commission´s decision fining the computer chip manufacturer a record 1.06 billion euros for breaching EU competition law.

The European Commission imposed the fine on Intel in May 2009, after finding that Intel abused its dominant position in the x86 CPU microprocessors market by attempting to foreclose Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), its main rival, between 2002 and 2007.

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Categories: Antitrust Enforcement, Antitrust Litigation, International Competition Issues

    June 9, 2014

    Container Shipping Companies Seek To Steer Clear Of European Antitrust Shoals

    A View from Constantine Cannon’s London Office

    By Natalia Mikolajczyk and Richard Pike

    Major container shipping companies are attempting to resolve the European Commission’s antitrust probe into their practice of publicly announcing price increases.

    The two biggest players in the container shipping market, A.P. Moeller-Maersk A/S and Mediterranean Shipping Company, hope to end the proceedings without paying any fines, according to news reports.

    Since 2009, container liner shipping companies have been publicly announcing their plans to increase prices, often through press releases available on company websites.  Between 2009 and 2013, carriers on the benchmark Asia-to-Europe route gave advance notice, via press release, of at least 34 rate increases.  These announcements, which were made several times a year, included information on the amount of the rate increase and the date of implementation.

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    Categories: Antitrust Enforcement, International Competition Issues

      May 16, 2014

      European Commissioner Rebuffs German CEO’s Criticisms Of Google Search Engine Settlement

      A View from Constantine Cannon’s London Office

      By Michael Petrides

      The European Commission’s Competition Commissioner, Joaquin Almunia, is strongly defending the EC from charges that its proposed settlement with Google concerning search engine practices would permit Google to expand its dominant market position.

      Commissioner Alumina’s defense of the proposed settlement joins a debate with Matthias Döpfner, CEO of German publishing giant Axel Springer.

      This blog commented in February on Google’s proposed commitments to settle its long-running antitrust case with the EC over its search engine practices. In the meantime, and before the commitments have been “market tested,” Döpfner has launched a scathing attack against the antitrust regulator.

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      Categories: Antitrust Enforcement, International Competition Issues

        May 7, 2014

        DOJ And FTC Will Discuss Whether Bundled Discounts Are A Bundle Of Antitrust Trouble Or A Bundle Of Joy For Consumers

        By Ankur Kapoor[1]

        The Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) and the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice will attempt to unravel the antitrust pros and cons of bundled discounts and other conditional-pricing practices in a one-day public workshop on June 23, 2014.

        Bundled discounts, which are discounts offered for the purchase of a “bundle” of goods or services, exist in many markets.  The undisputed heavyweight champion of bundled discounts is the fast-food value meal, for which you pay some five cents more to get the fries (how can you say no to that?).

        Although most bundled discounts are good for competition because customers love a good deal, there are cases where bundled discounts can exclude competition and, on balance, harm consumers.  For example, when a company has a monopoly in one product market (say, broadband internet service), it can raise prices in that market and then offer a “discount” only to customers that also buy some other product in a competitive market (say, telephone service).  Because customers need the monopoly product and don’t want to turn down the “discount” on that product, they end up buying the second product from the monopolist as well, to the exclusion of other companies competing in the second product market.  Even if competitors may be able to compete in the first product market, that complicates but does not eliminate the anticompetitive potential of the bundled discount.

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        Categories: Antitrust Enforcement, Antitrust Litigation

          April 25, 2014

          Sixth Circuit Pulls Plug on Merging Hospital’s Weakened Firm Defense

          By Marlene Koury

          The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit has upheld a Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) order unwinding a merger of two Ohio hospitals that unsuccessfully sought to breathe life into a “weakened firm defense.”

          In a unanimous opinion, a three-judge panel of the Sixth Circuit denied ProMedica’s petition to overturn a Federal Trade Commission ruling, which ordered ProMedica to divest itself of St. Luke’s after finding that the merger of two of the four hospital systems in Lucas county, Ohio, would adversely affect competition in violation of Section 7 of the Clayton Act.

          ProMedica scooped up its rival St. Luke’s in a widely-publicized merger in 2010.  A year later, the FTC deemed the merger anticompetitive on the grounds that it would lead to higher prices for consumers and ordered ProMedica to divest St. Luke’s.  ProMedica then filed a petition asking the Sixth Circuit to review the FTC order. click here for more »

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          Categories: Antitrust Enforcement, Antitrust Litigation

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