Categories & Search

After Favorable LIBOR Ruling from the Second Circuit, Investors Now Allege Anticompetitive SIBOR Manipulation

On July 5, 2016, investors filed a federal class action [add link to pdf] in the Southern District of New York alleging defendant banks had manipulated the Singapore Interbank Offered Rate (SIBOR) “and/or” Singapore Swap Offer Rate (SOR) market, forcing investors to pay artificial prices for financial derivative transactions based on these benchmarks. This lawsuit follows on the heels of the Second Circuit’s decision in In re: LIBOR-Based Financial Instruments Antitrust Litigation, which allowed the case to proceed.  

Go

Banks Speak: LIBOR Plaintiffs Are Not Efficient Enforcers Of Antitrust Laws

As our loyal readers know, on May 23, 2016, the Second Circuit issued a decision in the In re: LIBOR-Based Financial Instruments Antitrust Litigation vacating the District Court’s prior decision dismissing one case in this consolidated action.  Our analysis of that decision is available here.  Notably, however, the Second Circuit declined to rule on whether the plaintiffs (the “Plaintiffs”) are “efficient enforcers” of the antitrust laws and remanded that question for the District Court’s consideration.

Go

First Opt-Out Class Action Underway In The United Kingdom

On June 21, 2016, the United Kingdom Competition Appeal Tribunal (the “Tribunal”) published notice of an application to commence collective proceedings under Section 47B of the UK’s competition act.  If this action continues, it will be the first opt-out collective (class action) competition claims to be heard by the Competition Appeal Tribunal.

Go

Procompetitive Effects of Business Associations in the Balance?: Business Association Membership and the Sufficiency of Sherman Act Allegations

What facts beyond mere membership in a trade association trigger Sherman Act liability?  Next term, the Supreme Court will hear an antitrust case testing the requirements for pleading the conspiracy element of a claim brought under the Sherman Act—namely, whether the allegation that defendants belong to an association is sufficient for a Section 1 claim.  

Go

Expert Analysis Guides Decision to Certify Class of Automotive Part Purchasers

Certifying a class of direct purchasers of sheet metal parts alleging claims under section 1 of the Sherman Act, Judge Lynn Adelman of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin focused on what it means for common questions to predominate in an antitrust class action.  

Go

Four Takeaways from the FTC’s Healthcare Merger Losses

The Federal Trade Commission has made clear that it considers the regulation of competition in health care markets one of its top priorities, but in recent weeks the FTC has been dealt a string of tough losses in its healthcare merger challenges.  Here, we examine some of the key takeaways from the FTC’s recent defeats in this area.

Go

Court Halts FTC’s Bid to Block Chicago-Area Hospital Merger

On June 14, 2016, in FTC v. Advocate Health Care et al., No. 15-cv-11473, the District Court for the Northern District of Illinois denied the Federal Trade Commission’s attempt to stop the merger of Advocate Health Care Network and NorthShore University HealthSystem.

Go

Freedom to Whiten: Teeth-Whitener’s Antitrust Suit Against Georgia Board of Dentistry Allowed to Proceed

Earlier this week, in Colindres v. Battle, et al., No. 15-CV-2843 (N.D. Ga.), the District Court for the Northern District of Georgia refused to dismiss antitrust claims brought by the owner of a teeth-whitening company against the members of Georgia’s Board of Dentistry.  The plaintiffs, the owner and her company, allege that the Board has been sending agents to threaten her and her company with felony charges for unlicensed practice of dentistry, carrying a possible sentence of as much as five years in prison, though the Board has refused to take formal enforcement action or even put its complaints in writing.  

Go

Spring Update: Insights Regarding The Antitrust Division’s Recent Activity

The Antitrust Division recently issued its 2016 annual spring update. Taking advantage of modern technology, Bill Baer—now the Acting Associate Attorney General serving in the DOJ’s third-highest ranking position—prepared video remarks for your viewing pleasure.  (Still, most of the Division’s updates were included in written commentary.)  Renata B. Hesse now serves as the Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General responsible for overseeing the Antitrust Division.

Go

2nd Circuit Speaks: LIBOR Plaintiffs May Pursue Claims

On May 23, 2016, the Second Circuit issued a long-awaited decision in the In re: LIBOR‐Based Financial Instruments Antitrust Litigation, vacating the District Court’s (Buchwald, J.) prior decision dismissing one case in this consolidated action.

Go

The Penn State Hershey–Pinnacle Merger: A Turning Point in FTC’s Enforcement Authority, or Just a Temporary Setback?

As we have reported previously, the Federal Trade Commission recently has taken an aggressive stance in regulating mergers in the healthcare sector.  The Commission has racked up a string of victories, but last week the Middle District of Pennsylvania dealt a blow to that track record by denying the Commission’s request for a preliminary injunction to block a merger of two major healthcare providers in central Pennsylvania: Penn State Hershey Medical Center and PinnacleHealth Systems.  The FTC is pursuing an emergency appeal to the Third Circuit, but this loss could signal a waning in the FTC’s enforcement authority in the healthcare sector.

Go

Four Takeaways from Staples-Office Depot Merger Block

After last month’s bench trial, Judge Emmet G. Sullivan has granted the FTC a preliminary injunction enjoining the merger between Staples and Office Depot.  As a result, the companies have decided to end their efforts to merge.  Judge Sullivan’s reasoning is not yet publicly available, but the court’s three-page order answers many of the questions that had been swirling around the trial.

Go

SanDisk defeats Walker Process Claim

The District Court for the Northern District of California granted defendant SanDisk’s motion for summary judgment yesterday in Giuliano, et al v. SanDisk Corp., et al, 4:10-cv-02787 (N.D. Cal. June 25, 2010).

Go

Tobacco Cases Expose Tension Between Antitrust and Public Health

A recent decision of the European Court of Justice (“ECJ”) regarding the sale of tobacco products highlights a long-standing tension between two sets of laws: antitrust/competition laws, which seek to keep products affordable and accessible to consumers, and consumer protection and public health laws, which can seek to steer consumers away from products that pose a risk to public health by making them less accessible.

Go

Hitachi Chemical to Plead Guilty to Price-Fixing

The Department of Justice ("DOJ") announced this week that Hitachi Chemical Co. will plead guilty to a criminal charge for conspiring with competitors to fix the prices of electrolytic capacitors sold in the United States and elsewhere. The Tokyo-based company will pay an undisclosed fine and has agreed to cooperate with the DOJ's investigation.

Go

Soda bottler has bitter taste from alleged Pepsi price-fixing

A recent complaint charges PepsiCo Inc. with several antitrust violations, including price fixing and predatory pricing in violation of Section 1 of the Sherman Act, conspiracy and attempt to monopolize in violation of Section 2 of the Sherman Act, and price discrimination in violation of the Robinson-Patman Act.

Go

Antitrust Lessons from Oil Giants’ Proposed Merger

In perhaps an unsurprising move, last week the U.S. Department of Justice filed a civil antitrust lawsuit challenging the merger of Halliburton and Baker Hughes, the first and third largest oilfield services companies in the United States and the world.  The DOJ alleges the transaction would threaten to “eliminate competition, raise prices and reduce innovation in the oilfield services industry.”

Go

Staples Closes Defense, Calls No Witnesses in Merger Trial Brought by FTC

Yesterday, Staples closed its defense in the case brought by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to block the Staples-Office Depot merger—without calling any witnesses.  Judge Emmet Sullivan of the D.C. District Court stated that he “did not anticipate” this unusual move by Staples.  The CEOs of both Staples and Office Depot were slated to testify; instead, Judge Sullivan began hearing closing arguments.

Go

District Court Finds Uber CEO, by Driving for Uber, May be Liable for Driving Up Prices

It is plausible that Uber’s CEO, Travis Kalanick, may have violated antitrust law by fixing prices charged to Uber passengers, a judge in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York concluded last week in denying Kalanick’s motion to dismiss.  The lawsuit, Meyer v. Kalanick, is a putative class action initiated by Spencer Meyer, a resident of Connecticut, on behalf of people who, like him, have used Uber car services.  The complaint also names a subclass of people who have been charged according to Uber’s “surge pricing” model.

Go

FTC Launches First-Ever Attack on “No-AG Commitment” Pay-for-Delay Settlements

    Today the FTC filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania against Endo Pharmaceuticals for entering into “pay-for-delay” agreements with two different generic manufacturers that restricted generic competition for two of its patented drugs, Opana ER and Lidoderm.  The FTC alleges that Endo paid Impax, a generic drug manufacturer, $40 million to keep a generic version of Opana ER off the market for over 2 years, and that Endo and its partner Teikoku gave Watson (now Allergan) Lidoderm patches worth hundreds of millions of dollars “at no cost” for Watson to sell through its distribution subsidiary in exchange for abandoning its patent challenge.

Go

Three Things to Watch after One Week of the Staples-Office Depot Merger Trial

On Monday, Staples and the Federal Trade Commission began presenting arguments in the D.C. District Court on whether the FTC should be entitled to a preliminary injunction to halt a potential merger between Staples and Office Depot.  We previously reported on the Staples-Office Depot merger here and here.  Judge Emmet G. Sullivan, who is overseeing the bench trial, presided over a similar hearing just a few months ago related to the DOJ’s attempt to stop General Electric from selling its appliances division to Electrolux, a transaction that GE eventually abandoned.

Go

Out of Luck: Second Circuit Dismisses Antitrust Suit Brought by Catskills “Racino” Developers on Market Definition Grounds

On March 18, 2016, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissal of an antitrust lawsuit brought by the prospective developers of a racing track and casino in the Catskills region of New York against their one-time collaborators in the venture.  In Concord Assocs. v. Entm’t Props. Tr., 2d Cir., No. 13-3933-cv, the appellate court dismissed the complaint without leave to amend because the plaintiffs’ case had a fatal flaw: there is nothing special about the Catskills that renders the region a unique geographic market to people nearby who want to gamble.

Go

Merrick Garland on Efficiencies

Judge Merrick Garland, if he is confirmed, may become one of the Supreme Court’s foremost authorities in antitrust law.  He taught antitrust law at Harvard, and he has published on the subject, so it’s fair to expect him to seek a role in shaping antitrust jurisprudence and perhaps voting to hear more antitrust cases than currently end up on the Court’s docket.

Go

DOJ to Executives: We’re Watching You

We’ve previously written about how the Yates Memo announced an increased focus on individual accountability, and that the DOJ’s broader focus on individual accountability would likely encourage the Antitrust Division to increase its efforts to prosecute individuals for antitrust violations.

Go

Seventh Circuit Hears Argument in Clorox Appeal

Yesterday, the Seventh Circuit heard argument in the Woodman’s Food Market v. Clorox Co. appeal.  As members of our team have previously reported, this case concerns whether a plaintiff can state a claim under Section 2(e) of the Robinson Patman Act based on the size of the package offered for sale.

Go

Generic Price-Hike Investigations Expand to Include Turing

Generic drug manufacturers have come under scrutiny from state and federal regulators for recent generic drug price hikes.  These investigations have expanded to include Turing Pharmaceuticals and its former CEO, Martin Shkreli.

Go

Publishers close the book on one e-books case; Supreme Court decides whether to reopen another

We will soon know whether the Supreme Court will grant Apple’s cert petition asking the Court to review and reverse its antitrust violation for conspiring with publishers to fix the prices of e-books.  The Court will consider the petition at its next conference on February 19.  As we previously reported here and here, a divided Second Circuit panel affirmed the district court’s findings that the per se rule applied to Apple’s conduct and that Apple violated Section 1 of the Sherman Act.

Go

Schneiderman Seeks to Sack NFL’s Minimum Ticket Resale Prices

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is reportedly investigating the National Football League for antitrust violations in connection with its imposition of “price floors” on tickets for resale.  In a 40-page report released last week, the NYAG’s office outlined numerous concerns about the market for event tickets.  Among those concerns is the practice, by some NFL teams and the New York Yankees, of imposing minimum pricing requirements (typically prohibiting sale for less than face value) on their “official” online resale platforms.  According to the NYAG, such “price floors” make it “easy for buyers to be fooled into believing what they are paying is the market price for a ticket, when in fact the buyer is paying a price artificially inflated by a price floor.”

Go

MLB Settles, Leaving Unanswered Questions: Do Sports Leagues’ Regional Blackout Agreements Violate Antitrust Laws?

In the wake of Major League Baseball’s settlement of antitrust claims on the eve of trial, the central question from the lawsuit remains:  are sports leagues’ exclusive broadcasting territories for live games an antitrust violation?  Although suits against the MLB and National Hockey League have both settled, analogous antitrust claims are pending against the National Football League, leaving open the possibility that these issues may be finally resolved in the court room.

Go

MLB Pitches Around Consumers by Settling Suit, Avoiding Further Litigation on the Scope of Its Longstanding Antitrust Exemption

We’ve previously written about litigation involving the scope of Major League Baseball’s long-standing antitrust exemption.  Earlier this week, on the eve of trial, MLB settled Garber v. Office of the Commissioner of Baseball, a class action lawsuit challenging its territorial broadcasting policy.  The lead plaintiff Marc Lerner is a Mississippi resident and New York Yankee fan who was allegedly charged supracompetitive prices to watch the Yankees due to MLB’s territorial broadcast policies.  Under MLB’s policy of territorially restricting television broadcasts, consumers could only watch “out-of-market” games subject to certain limitations, including a requirement to purchase every out-of-market game, even if the consumer was only interested in following a single team.  By avoiding the bench trial, MLB avoided having to further litigate the scope of its unique “antitrust exemption” in front of Judge Scheindlin of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, who had previously expressed skepticism about the continuing viability of the exemption.

Go

In re Capacitors Antitrust Class Action Update: Claims Slightly Narrowed, Parties Continue Discovery

When we last wrote in June 2015 about In re Capacitors Antitrust Litig., No. 14-03264-JD, consolidated putative class actions pending before Judge James Donato in the Northern District of California, the plaintiffs had just largely survived a motion to dismiss.  That blog post, which describes the background of the case and the first round of motions to dismiss, is available here.  Recently, on December 30, 2015, the court ruled on several additional motions to dismiss based on plaintiffs’ amended complaints.

Go

Polar Air Cargo Settles Antitrust Claims for $100 Million

A settlement agreement last week in the long-running U.S. Cargo Antitrust Class Action brought the settlement fund in that case to over $1.1. billion. Polar Air Cargo, Polar Air Cargo Worldwide, and Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings agreed to pay $100 million in three installments. The settlement is the second-largest so far in this case, after Korean Air Lines's agreement in December 2013 to pay $115 million. It is subject to approval by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, where the case is pending.

Go

Second Bite at the Apple in AT & T Aftermarket Case?

On December 14, 2015 Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers heard oral argument on a motion to dismiss filed by Apple in an antitrust action brought against the company in connection with its 2007 deal to sell iPhones exclusively to AT&T Mobility.  The next day, Judge Rogers denied Apple’s motion.  The lawsuit, one of several arising from the Apple-AT&T agreement, raises interesting questions about how to define a relevant product market using an “aftermarket” theory. 

Go

Breaking News: FTC Rejects Staples’ Proposed Divestiture in Office Depot Merger

As we previously reported here, the FTC recently filed suit to challenge Staples’ $6.3 billion bid for Office Depot.  In response to the FTC’s challenge, Staples offered to divest up to $1.25 billion in commercial contracts to ease concerns about reduced competition and higher prices in the market to service the office supply needs of large companies.  The FTC rejected this concession without making a counteroffer.  While Judge Emmet G. Sullivan, who is overseeing the case, said he was “frustrated” by the FTC’s refusal to negotiate, the parties are now inching closer to their May 10, 2016 trial date.

Go

EU Competition Commissioner Levels Charges Against Qualcomm

In yet another high-profile enforcement action, last week EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager announced charges against Qualcomm Inc., a world leader in 3G, 4G, and next-generation wireless technologies and the world’s largest supplier of baseband chipsets, for allegedly abusing its dominant position in the baseband chipset market.  The Commission preliminarily concluded that Qualcomm illegally paid a major customer to exclusively use Qualcomm chipsets, and also engaged in predatory pricing by selling chipsets below cost with the aim of forcing a competitor out of the market.  

Go

FTC Moves to Halt Merger Between Staples and Office Depot

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) last week challenged Staples' $6.3 billion bid for Office Depot, claiming that the proposed merger would significantly reduce competition nationwide in the market for office supplies to large companies.  Large companies rely on competition between the two suppliers to hold down the cost of items such as pens, pencils, notepads, sticky notes, file folders, paper clips, and paper used for printers and copy machines, the FTC said. 

Go

Fifth Circuit Considers Independent Conduct in Vertical Agreements to Facilitate Horizontal Conspiracy

On November 25, 2015, the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed the $156 million antitrust judgment in MM Steel, L.P. v. JSW Steel (USA) Incorporated; Nucor Corporation, upholding a jury verdict that found one defendant steel manufacturer (JSW Steel) liable for participation in an illegal conspiracy to block distributor MM Steel from entering the market.  The Court of Appeals reversed the jury verdict as to defendant Nucor, another steel manufacturer.  In so doing, the Fifth Circuit identified evidence that does—and does not—tend to exclude the possibility of independent conduct for purposes of finding a violation of § 1 of the Sherman Act.  The court also underscored that per se liability (and not the rule of reason) attaches to horizontal conspirators’ use of vertical agreements to shut competitors out of the market.

Go

What Does the Yates Memo Mean for Antitrust Cases?

Just over two months ago, the United States Department of Justice made waves when a memorandum from Deputy Attorney General Sally Quillian Yates (the “Yates Memo”) announced an increased focus on individual accountability to combat corporate misconduct.  The Yates Memo explains DOJ’s view that individual accountability is important because it deters future illegal activity, incentivizes changes in corporate behavior, ensures the proper parties are held responsible for their actions, and promotes the public’s confidence in the justice system. 

Go

FTC Asserts That Its Failure to Object to a “Reverse Payment” Settlement Should Not Be Interpreted as Approval

On November 17, 2015, the FTC submitted an amicus brief to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in In re Effexor XR Antitrust Litigation, where the district court had dismissed the plaintiffs’ claims of antitrust violations based on an alleged reverse payment under FTC v. Actavis, Inc., 133 S. Ct. 2223 (2013). In its brief, the FTC argues that its failure to object to a pharmaceutical patent settlement should play no role whatsoever in evaluating the legality of alleged reverse payments, and urged the Third Circuit to reverse the district court’s decision to the extent it relied on such considerations.

Go

Third Circuit Provides Clarity to “Inextricably Intertwined” Basis of Antitrust Injury in Partially Reinstating Claims Against ShopRite

On November 12, 2015, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals issued an opinion partially reversing the dismissal of the plaintiff’s claims in Hanover 3201 Realty, LLC v. Village Supermarkets, Inc., finding that plaintiff Hanover Realty had successfully pleaded antitrust standing with regard to certain of its claims. The Third Circuit clarified—and potentially expanded the scope of—its prior interpretations of the Supreme Court’s seminal standing decision in Blue Shield of Va. v. McCready, 457 U.S. 465 (1982), which held that a plaintiff did not necessarily need to be a consumer or a competitor of a defendant to establish antitrust injury, if it could show that its injury was “inextricably intertwined” with the injury to intended victims of an antitrust conspiracy.

Go

Breaking News: $6 Million Cox Communications Cable Box Jury Verdict Overturned

As we previously reported (click here, to read more), last month, a jury returned a $6 million verdict for a class plaintiff in a suit alleging that Cox Communications had illegally tied its premium cable services to rentals of its set-top boxes.  Yesterday, the court granted Cox’s renewed motion for judgment as a matter of law, overturned the jury’s verdict, and entered judgment for Cox.

Go