Antitrust Update Blog

http://www.antitrustupdateblog.com/

Antitrust Update Blog is a source of insights, information and analysis on criminal and civil antitrust and competition-related issues. Patterson Belknapā€™s antitrust lawyers represent clients in antitrust litigation and counseling matters, including those related to pricing, marketing, distribution, franchising, and joint ventures and other strategic alliances.

Recent Blog Posts

  • Indirect Purchasers Cannot Sue Qualcomm Under Federal Law, But State Law Claims Survive A federal judge in California has refused to allow indirect purchasers of semiconductor chips—i.e., cell phone consumers—to bring claims against Qualcomm under federal antitrust law. Plaintiffs allege Qualcomm’s patent licensing practices are anticompetitive and constitute an abuse of Qualcomm’s dominant position in the supply of semiconductor chips. As a result of these practices, plaintiffs say, Apple is forced to pay improper royalties to Qualcomm, and these costs are passed on to consumers of Apple’s products. Plaintiffs brought claims under both... More
  • Senators and court complain of ‘anti-competitive’ transfer of patent rights to American Indian tribe We have previously discussed antitrust implications of pharmaceutical companies’ efforts to maximize patent protection for their drugs.  Consumers and generic drug makers, for instance, have alleged antitrust violations based on “product hopping” and “pay-for-delay” settlements.  Recently, a patent owner’s creative technique to avoid possible invalidation of its patent by the Patent and Trademark Office has drawn sharp criticism from lawmakers and one district court. Inter partes review proceedings before the PTO allow a petitioner to challenge the patentability of one... More
  • Are Restaurant No-Tipping Policies the Product of an Antitrust Conspiracy? In July of 2013, Danny Meyer, the CEO of the Union Square Hospitality Group, tweeted that he was considering eliminating tipping at his restaurants and solicited the opinion of other restaurant owners.  Meyer and others eventually followed through on this idea and eliminated tipping at some of their restaurants. Instead, they began charging service fees while also raising menu prices to account for the increase in wages needed to compensate previously tipped employees.  A newly filed putative class-action complaint alleges... More
  • Antitrust Division to International Community: “Imperative that Competition Agencies Work Together” For several years, the Antitrust Division’s investigations have been increasingly global in scope.  Acting Assistant Attorney General Andrew Finch made clear that trend will continue in remarks at a conference on International Antitrust Law and Policy held in New York earlier this month. Finch set out to answer the question, “what can the international community expect from the Antitrust Division?”  He stressed that “with over 130 antitrust enforcers worldwide, it is even more imperative that competition agencies work together.”  He... More
  • Eleventh Circuit Reinstates Auto Body Shops’ Antitrust Claims Against Insurers In a 2-1 decision issued on September 7, 2017, the Eleventh Circuit reversed a district court decision dismissing antirust claims brought by auto body shops against a group of car insurance companies in the In re Auto Body Shop Antitrust Litigation. In this MDL, the auto body shop plaintiffs alleged that the defendant car insurance companies engaged in two lines of tactics in pursuit of a single goal:  “to depress the shops’ rates for automobile repair.”  The first alleged tactic... More
  • D.C. Circuit Affirms Dismissal of Third-Party Presidential Candidates’ Antitrust Claims On August 29, 2017, the D.C. Circuit affirmed the district court’s decision dismissing a suit filed by 2012 third-party presidential candidates Gary Johnson and Jill Stein, their running mates, their campaigns, and the parties they represented (together, “Plaintiffs”) against the Commission on Presidential Debates.  Plaintiffs alleged that Johnson and Stein were improperly excluded from nationally televised general-election presidential debates in violation of the Sherman Act. More specifically, Plaintiffs challenged a memorandum of understanding (“MOU”) stipulated to by the Obama for... More
  • E-Commerce Company Custom Wristbands Admits to Price-Fixing The Department of Justice Antitrust Division recently announced that California-based Custom Wristbands Inc. (d/b/a Kulayful Silicone Bracelets, Kulayful.com, Speedywristbands.com, Promotionalbands.com, Wristbandcreations.com, and 1inchbracelets.com) (“Custom Wristbands”) and its top executive Christopher Angeles agreed to plead guilty for conspiring to fix prices for wristbands and other customized novelty products sold online. This is the second e-commerce company to plead guilty to price-fixing in recent weeks.  Earlier this month, DOJ secured a guilty plea from Zaappaaz Inc. (“Zaappaaz”), a Texas e-commerce company, and... More
  • Third Circuit Holds No Sham Litigation or Unlawful Reverse Payment in Wellbutrin XL Litigation The Third Circuit recently affirmed the grant of summary judgment to GlaxoSmithKline (“GSK”) in the nearly 10-year-old Wellbutrin XL Antitrust Litigation, which challenged the lawfulness of settlement agreements resolving patent disputes over Wellbutrin XL.  In determining that GSK had not violated the Sherman Act, the court determined that GSK’s settlement of patent infringement lawsuits did not reflect that GSK had engaged in sham litigation, or that GSK made unlawful “reverse payments” to settle that litigation.  To reach these conclusions, the... More
  • Radius Restrictions – New York AG Cracks Down on Outlet Mall Operator Outlet malls are popular destinations for consumers seeking a bargain, even if not everyone agrees that the deals are as good as advertised.  But although the prices may seem low, a common provision in lease agreements between the operators of outlet malls and retailers may have reduced competition and raised the prices consumers paid.  This week, the operator of the most popular outlet mall in the New York City metropolitan area reached a settlement with the New York Attorney General... More
  • Senate bill would attach strings to state licensing boards’ antitrust immunity As we noted last month, the FTC has recently been voicing concerns about potentially anticompetitive actions of state professional licensing boards.  Our post also discussed the scope of such boards’ immunity from antitrust liability under the Supreme Court’s caselaw. Now, a U.S. Senate bill sponsored by Republicans Mike Lee, Ted Cruz, and Ben Sasse seeks to clarify the circumstances under which antitrust immunity will attach, but also to discourage the use of occupational licensing requirements except when necessary “to combat... More