August 31, 2015

The Antitrust Week In Review

Here are some of the developments in antitrust news this past week that we found interesting and are following.

Google rebuts Europe on antitrust charges.  Google is denying claims from the European Union’s top antitrust official that it favored some of its own search results over those of rivals, saying there was significant competition in the region’s online search market and that the company’s services increased choice for consumers.  Google’s response to the charges, which was submitted to the European Commission Thursday afternoon, is the latest chapter in a long investigation into the Silicon Valley technology giant, which would face fines worth billions of dollars if it is found to have violated the European Union’s antitrust rules.

EU antitrust regulators investigate precious metals trading.  European Union antitrust authorities are investigating possible anti-competitive practices in precious metals trading as they join other regulators in a crackdown on possible rigging of the markets.  The European Commission’s action follows a record 1.7 billion euro fine against six financial institutions in 2013 for manipulating Libor and Euribor interest rate benchmarks.

Dismissal of drug-pricing antitrust lawsuit affirmed.  The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has affirmed the dismissal of a more than 20-year-old lawsuit filed by 28 retail pharmacies accusing Johnson & Johnson of suppressing competition by giving large pharmacy benefit managers discounts on drugs.  The court said that extensive discovery had shown that the pharmacies had not lost a significant amount of customers, and thus could not show any antitrust injury.

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Categories: Antitrust Enforcement, Antitrust Litigation

    August 17, 2015

    The Antitrust Week In Review

    Here are some of the developments in antitrust news this past week that we found interesting and are following.

    FTC offers first-ever guidance on ‘unfair competition.’  The Federal Trade Commission has released unprecedented guidance on what constitutes “unfair competition,” but has stopped short of offering the level of detail long sought by businesses.  The guidance is actually the first attempt by the FTC to precisely define “unfair competition,” which is barred by Section 5 of 1914 Federal Trade Commission Act.  Stressing that its enforcement practices would not change, the FTC said it would be guided by consumer welfare concerns in applying the law.

    Europe Gives Google More Time to Respond to Antitrust Charges.  The European Commission is giving Google until the end of August to answer claims that it favored its own comparison shopping search over those of rivals.  The move came just days before an August 17 deadline that Europe’s competition authorities had set for Google to respond to the charges.

    TrueCar says it considers U.S. antitrust probe to be closed.  The Federal Trade Commission has closed an investigation into whether auto dealers ganged up against shopping website TrueCar in order to raise prices, TrueCar said in a securities filing on Wednesday.  TrueCar said in the filing it had responded to an FTC request for documents and considered the matter to be closed.

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    Categories: Antitrust Enforcement, Antitrust Policy, International Competition Issues

      July 20, 2015

      The Antitrust Week In Review

      Here are some of the developments in antitrust news this past week that we found interesting and are following.

      Accusing Amazon of Antitrust Violations, Authors and Booksellers Demand Inquiry.  Five years after Amazon asked antitrust regulators to investigate leading publishers, groups representing thousands of authors, agents and independent booksellers are asking the United States Department of Justice to examine Amazon for antitrust violations.  The Authors Guild, the American Booksellers Association, the Association of Authors’ Representatives and Authors United said in letters and statements to the Justice Department that “Amazon has used its dominance in ways that we believe harm the interests of America’s readers, impoverish the book industry as a whole, damage the careers of (and generate fear among) many authors, and impede the free flow of ideas in our society.”

      U.S. consumer groups oppose Teva bid for generic drug rival Mylan.  A proposed merger of the two largest U.S. generic drug makers is drawing fire from Consumers Union and seven other groups, who are asking antitrust enforcers to stop Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd’s proposal to purchase Mylan NV, saying it would lead to higher prices and more drug shortages.  Although there is no deal yet, the groups are concerned about recent takeover efforts. In their letter to Federal Trade Commission Chairwoman Edith Ramirez, the groups urged the FTC to look at more than just overlapping drugs made by both companies, to determine if a merger of drug makers is legal.

      BRF, Vantage file antitrust suit against Willis-Knighton.  Biomedical Research Foundation and Louisiana insurer Vantage Health Plan are predicting “catastrophic” consequences to health care in northern Louisiana if Willis-Knighton Health System is allowed to strengthen what BRF and Vantage say is already a monopoly.  BRF and Vantage have filed an antitrust lawsuit in federal court to block what they allege is an anticompetitive scheme by Willis-Knighton Health System to steal commercially insured patients in Louisiana.

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      Categories: Antitrust Enforcement, Antitrust Law and Monopolies

        July 17, 2015

        European Commission Doubles Down On Antitrust Investigations Against Giant U.S. Chipmaker Qualcomm

        A View from Constantine Cannon’s London Office

        By Richard Pike and Yulia Tosheva

        The European Commission (“EC”) announced yesterday it has opened two antitrust investigations into possible abusive behavior by the U.S. technology company Qualcomm, the world’s largest supplier of baseband chipsets.

        Investigation into rebates

        The first investigation will examine whether Qualcomm abused its dominant market position by offering rebates and other financial incentives to customers on condition that they buy baseband chipsets exclusively from Qualcomm.

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        Categories: Antitrust Enforcement, Antitrust Litigation, International Competition Issues

          July 16, 2015

          European Court Of Justice Holds Standard-Essential Patent Owner Can Abuse Its Position By Seeking To Enjoin Infringement

          By Seth D. Greenstein

          The European Court of Justice ruled today that the owner of a standard-essential patent abuses its dominant position when it seeks an injunction in an action for patent infringement against an infringer that has expressed genuine willingness to license the patents on fair, reasonable, and nondiscriminatory (“FRAND”) terms.

          In Case C-170/13, Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. v. ZTE Corp. (July 16, 2015), the Court of Justice held that such an abuse of a dominant position violates Article 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.  This is the first definitive statement by the European Court on an issue that has received close attention in United States courts and from the U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”).  Its opinion provides some of the most definitive guidance on negotiations of FRAND licenses and lawful licensing conduct – and stakes out perhaps the most aggressive posture on the consequences of a patent owner’s failure to follow that guidance.

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          Categories: Antitrust Enforcement, Antitrust Litigation, International Competition Issues

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