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

          June 29, 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.

          Judge Halts Sysco’s Proposed Merger With US Foods.  A federal judge has ordered a preliminary injunction to block Sysco’s proposed merger with US Foods, dealing a potentially fatal blow to what would be a union of the two biggest food distribution companies in the United States.  The injunction is a victory for the Federal Trade Commission, which sued in February to block the deal on the grounds that it would lead to higher prices and worse service for customers like restaurants and schools.

          Anthem confident, but experts see antitrust hurdles to Cigna deal.  U.S. health insurer Anthem is dismissing concerns that buying smaller competitor Cigna would be considered anticompetitive, despite the view of antitrust experts that the combination would earn regulatory scrutiny.  Any merger could require asset sales and would be complicated by potential deals among other insurers.

          Getty Images takes Google grievance to EU antitrust regulators.  Getty Images has become the latest company to take its grievances with Google to European Union antitrust regulators as it accused the world’s largest Internet search engine of favoring its own images service at the expense of rivals.  The complaint comes as the European Commission waits for Google to respond to charges of abusing its market power in a dozen EU countries since 2007 by distorting search results to favor its shopping service.

          U.S. gov’t settles antitrust charges with three Michigan hospitals.  Although three Michigan hospital systems have settled charges by the U.S. Department of Justice that they violated antitrust law by agreeing not to advertise in each other’s areas, a fourth will fight the allegations.  Michigan’s Hillsdale Community Health Center, Community Health Center of Branch County, Michigan, and ProMedica Health System Inc, which has two hospitals in the area, are settling the charges.

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          Categories: Antitrust Enforcement, Antitrust Litigation, General, International Competition Issues

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