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 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

        July 15, 2015

        European Commission Slams Cargo Train Operators With 49 Million Euro Fine In Cartel Settlement

        A View from Constantine Cannon’s London Office

        By Yulia Tosheva and Richard Pike

        The European Commission (“EC”) today imposed fines totalling 49,154,000 euros on Express Interfracht, part of the Austrian railway company Österreichische Bundesbahnen, and Schenker, a subsidiary of the leading German railway operator Deutsche Bahn, in a cartel settlement.

        Express Interfracht and Schenker agreed to pay fines of 31,798,000 million euros and 17,356,000 million euros, respectively.  Although Kuhne+Nagel also participated in the cartel, it received full immunity for revealing the conspiracy to the EC.

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        Categories: Antitrust Enforcement, International Competition Issues

          July 13, 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.

          MasterCard Faces Antitrust Charges in E.U.  European antitrust officials have filed formal charges against MasterCard, accusing the company of harming consumers and retailers by setting artificially high fees for credit card transactions in Europe.  The European Commission said MasterCard had prevented some retailers from processing transactions in countries with lower fees. The commission also said that MasterCard’s fees were unfair to tourists traveling in Europe.

          FTC exploring Apple rules for streaming music rivals in App Store.  U.S. government antitrust regulators are investigating claims that Apple’s treatment of rival streaming music apps is illegal under antitrust law, according to industry sources.  Apple recently launched a new music streaming service, Apple Music.  It also provides the App Store platform for competing streaming services including Jango, Spotify, Rhapsody and others.

          States line up to scrutinize Aetna’s $33 Billion Humana deal.  U.S. insurance regulators and state attorneys general are lining up to examine Aetna Inc’s proposed $33 billion takeover of rival Humana Inc. for potential harm to consumers, complicating what was already expected to be a tough review by federal antitrust authorities.  Insurance commissioners in 18 states including Texas, Kentucky and Florida will study merger documents provided by Humana to determine whether the deal will harm competition and lead to higher insurance premiums or diminished access to healthcare providers.  Moreover, while the U.S. Department of Justice is taking the lead on scrutinizing the transaction, at least three state attorneys general – in Florida, Mississippi and Massachusetts – have stated they will look at the proposed acquisition as well.

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          Categories: Antitrust and Price Fixing, Antitrust Policy, International Competition Issues

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