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

    March 23, 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.

    Take Google to Court, Staff Report Urged F.T.C.  The Federal Trade Commission is facing renewed questions about its handling of its antitrust investigation into Google, after documents revealed that an internal report had recommended stronger action.  The 2012 report, from the FTC’s bureau of competition, recommended suing the Internet search giant for anticompetitive practices, according to anonymous sources who saw the report.  In early 2013, the FTC voted unanimously against bringing charges after an investigation.  Google’s critics and competitors are arguing that the FTC failed to take appropriate action, and are urging the European Union to take action to rein in Google.

    Tour Bus Companies Agree to Settle Antitrust Lawsuit.  Two of New York City’s biggest tour bus operators have agreed to pay $7.5 million and give up almost 50 of their stops in Manhattan to settle antitrust claims brought by the U.S. Department of Justice and the New York State Attorney General.  The proposed settlement could reshape an industry that was allegedly monopolized after the two companies, City Sights and Gray Line New York, formed a joint venture called Twin America.

    Sysco, FTC Battle Over What Stays Secret in Antitrust Tussle.  Sysco is accusing the Federal Trade Commission of failing to provide necessary information about its witnesses in advance of a hearing that will be crucial in determining whether the food distributor can rescue its merger with rival US Foods Inc.  The FTC filed a lawsuit in February asking the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia for a preliminary injunction blocking the $3.5 billion merger while an FTC administrative law judge holds a parallel proceeding to determine if the deal should be scrapped.

     

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    Categories: Antitrust Law and Monopolies, Antitrust Litigation, International Competition Issues

      February 3, 2015

      Sysco May Be Selling “Fix-it-First” To Save Food Distributors’ Merger, But FTC May Not Be Buying

      By Allison F. Sheedy

      Sysco Corp. announced a divestiture plan this week that it claims should address concerns of the Federal Trade Commission (the “FTC”) about the food behemoth’s proposed acquisition of US Foods, which would combine the two largest food distributors in the United States.

      Sysco, the nation’s largest food distributor, said on Monday that it is prepared to sell 11 US Foods distribution centers in the West and Midwest to smaller competitor Performance Foods Group, should the FTC approve its pending deal, which would give Sysco more than 25% of the national market, before divestitures, in the business of buying food and other supplies and selling them to restaurants, hospitals and other institutions. The company has been in discussions with the FTC for over a year with no resolution in sight. What does this proposed divestiture mean for the deal?

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      Categories: Antitrust Enforcement, Antitrust Law and Monopolies

        February 10, 2014

        Umbrella Liability For Price Fixing: Does The Forecast Call For More Damages In The EU And U.S.?

        A View from Constantine Cannon’s London Office

        By Irene Fraile and Ankur Kapoor

        The European Union may be on the verge of embracing “umbrella liability”—a theory of liability that would significantly increase the exposure of members of anticompetitive cartels.

        The European Court of Justice is being urged by one of its advocates general to hold that, under EU law, victims of cartels can seek damages from cartel members for higher prices paid to non-cartel members that were able to raise their prices under the pricing “umbrella” created by the cartel. If the Court of Justice endorses such umbrella liability, antitrust liability in the EU could diverge from the approach evolving in U.S. courts which have been reluctant to embrace umbrella liability. click here for more »

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        Categories: Antitrust Enforcement, Antitrust Law and Monopolies, Antitrust Legislation, Antitrust Litigation, Antitrust Policy, International Competition Issues

          December 17, 2013

          Court Closes The Book On Bookhouse Antitrust Claims Against Amazon And Publishers

          By Allison F. Sheedy

          The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York has dismissed antitrust claims against Amazon and the six largest book publishers related to the publishers’ contracts with Amazon for the distribution of e-books requiring the use of digital rights management software (“DRM”) in The Bookhouse of Stuyvesant Plaza, Inc. et al. v. Amazon.com, Inc. et al.

          The Bookhouse plaintiffs are independent bookstores that sell both print books and e-books.  They alleged claims of unlawful restraints of trade under Section 1 of the Sherman Act against all defendants, and claims of monopolization and attempted monopolization under Section 2 of the Sherman Act against Amazon.

          Generally speaking, DRM limits the ability to use digital content after its sale.  The plaintiffs alleged that Amazon, manufacturer of the Kindle e-reader, employed more restrictive DRM technology than required by its agreements with the six publisher defendants – Random House Inc., Penguin Group (USA) Inc., Hachette Book Group USA Inc., Simon & Schuster Inc., HarperCollins Publishers LLC and Macmillan Publishers Inc.  Plaintiffs claimed that this DRM technology effectively restricted the devices on which e-books sold and distributed by Amazon could be read, which rendered Amazon’s e-book platform a “closed ecosystem.”  click here for more »

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          Categories: Antitrust and Price Fixing, Antitrust Law and Monopolies, Antitrust Litigation

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