Antitrust Update Blog

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Antitrust Update Blog is a source of insights, information and analysis on criminal and civil antitrust and competition-related issues. Patterson Belknap’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. We have significant experience with government civil and criminal/cartel investigations, providing the unique perspectives of former top U.S. Department of Justice Antitrust Division lawyers from both the civil and criminal sides.

Sabre Appeals to the Second Circuit After $15M Jury Verdict for US Airways

Last week, Sabre filed its principal brief on appeal to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, seeking to overturn the jury’s verdict of $15 million and find for Sabre or, in the alternative, grant a new trial in US Airways Inc. v. Sabre Holdings Corp.  Its primary argument on appeal is that its case should have been governed by United States v. American Express Co., in which the Second Circuit reversed the district court’s finding of anticompetitive harm in a one-sided market because the proper analysis was whether there was anticompetitive harm in a two-sided market.

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International Comity: Supreme Court Considers Vitamin C Price Fixing Lawsuit

On Monday, just a few days after the Justices of the Supreme Court conferred on the cert petition in the Vitamin C price fixing antitrust case, the Court asked the Acting Solicitor General to file a brief “expressing the views of the United States.”  The cert petition comes after a Second Circuit decision reversing a $147 million jury award to vitamin C importers who successfully argued in the court below that two Chinese companies fixed the prices of vitamin C exported to the United States in violation of the Sherman Act.

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Multi-Defendant Antitrust Litigation: Lessons Learned from In re: Automotive Parts Antitrust Litigation

Last Friday, in the latest development in the massive auto parts antitrust litigation, the State of California settled with Sumitomo Electric Industries, Ltd. and related companies regarding their sale of wire harness systems and heater control panels at allegedly supracompetitive prices.  (For prior posts on this case, see here and here.)  Sumitomo did not admit to any wrongdoing, but agreed to pay California over $800,000 and cooperate with California’s litigation efforts against the many other defendants in the case.  Sumitomo and its related entities are the only auto parts defendants named in the State of California’s complaint.

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Mylan Sued For Illegally Protecting EpiPen®’s Market Share

Last Monday Sanofi brought an antitrust suit against Mylan, alleging that Mylan engaged in illegal conduct to suppress competition in the epinephrine auto-injector (“EAI”) market, which is dominated by Mylan’s billion-dollar EpiPen® product. In particular, Sanofi alleges that Mylan has had a virtual monopoly in the EAI market, but felt threatened when Sanofi entered the market in 2013 with its Auvi-Q® product, which Sanofi touted for its smaller size and voice instructions (as opposed to EpiPen®’s written instructions).

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Draft Legislation Streamlines and Redefines Australia’s Competition Laws

On Monday, Australia’s Federal Government released new draft legislation after a panel conducted a review of Australia’s competition laws last year.  The proposed revisions consolidate power and discretion with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (the “Commission”) and harmonize some laws with EU competition laws. 

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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.  

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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.”

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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.

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Ninth Circuit Disallows Additional Compensation for College Athletes

Yesterday, the Ninth Circuit ruled in the long awaited O’Bannon v. NCAA case, which challenged NCAA rules that bar student-athletes from “being paid for the use of their names, images, and likenesses” (NILs) – part of the so-called “amateurism rules.”  The Court upheld the district court’s decision finding the NCAA amateurism rules to be an unlawful restraint of trade in violation of the Sherman Act and upheld part of the district court’s remedy which permanently enjoined the NCAA from prohibiting its member schools from giving student-athletes scholarships up to the full cost of attendance at their respective schools.  The Ninth Circuit struck down, however, the district court’s second remedy which would have permanently enjoined the NCAA from prohibiting its member schools from giving student-athletes up to $5,000 per year in deferred compensation. 

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Apple Signals It Will Seek Supreme Court Reversal on E-Book Decision

Earlier this month, Apple signaled its intention to petition for writ of certiorari after the Second Circuit upheld Judge Cote’s decision to apply per se liability in analyzing the firm’s conduct with respect to e-books in United States v. Apple Inc.  We have previously reported on the decisions below where both the Second Circuit and the Southern District of New York concluded that per se liability applies because, even though Apple’s contracts with publishers were vertical agreements (and thus would usually require the rule of reason analysis per the Supreme Court’s Leegin decision), Apple’s organization of competing e-book  publishers to raise e-book prices created a horizontal agreement.

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Keurig Fights to Dismiss All Antitrust Claims Brought Against It

On July 9, 2015, the Southern District of New York heard oral argument on Keurig Green Mountain’s motions to dismiss the three complaints filed by the following plaintiffs: Keurig’s competitors (Treehouse Foods, Inc., Bay Valley Foods, LLC, and Sturm Foods, Inc.); Keurig’s direct purchasers; and Keurig’s indirect purchasers.  

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Third Circuit Allows Pay-For-Delay Suit Despite No Cash Payment

On June 26, 2015, the Third Circuit extended Actavis to non-cash settlements and held that Actavis can cover a no-AG agreement – “a settlement in which the patentee drug manufacturer agrees to relinquish its right to produce an ‘authorized generic’ of the drug” during the statutorily guaranteed 180 days of market exclusivity for the first-filing generic drug manufacturer.

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Europe’s Antitrust Investigation into Google Could Change the Cellphone Industry

In a long line of European regulators taking aggressive stances against American tech companies, Margrethe Vestager, the European Union’s (EU) antitrust chief, is determined to pursue antitrust claims against Google.  In addition to bringing formal charges against Google for allegedly abusing its dominance in web searches, Vestager has opened a formal investigation into Google’s practice of “pre-installing its apps and services onto Android smartphones,” presumably based on the theory that doing so gives Google’s software preferential treatment compared to its competitors.

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Is the FRAND Regime Due for an Overhaul?

In today’s technology-heavy world, technical interoperability standards are quite common.  Because those standards are often patented, patent owners may have the ability to extract a monopoly price and some argue those owners can “reduce[] the number of competitors practicing the standard.” 

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Actavis Amici Briefs Don’t Support Injunction

The expedited appeal to the Second Circuit pits New York State’s arguments for facilitating competition in a “molecule market” (a product market defined by the active ingredient of a prescription drug) against the brand name manufacturer’s arguments about innovation and compelled support of potential competitors.  

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Oakland A’s May Not Move, Ninth Circuit Says

After the Ninth Circuit’s decision on January 15, 2015, Major League Baseball maintains its exemption from the antitrust laws.  Since the Supreme Court established baseball’s antitrust exemption nearly a century ago in 1922, neither the Supreme Court nor Congress has significantly changed the rule.  As we have previously reported, the Supreme Court revisited the antitrust exemption twice since 1922 and both times upheld it on stare decisis grounds and because Congress had implicitly acquiesced to the Supreme Court’s decision by not overturning it.  The exemption extends broadly to the entire “business of providing public baseball games for profit between clubs of professional baseball players.”  

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In re: Nexium Plaintiffs Seek a Permanent Injunction

As we reported earlier, the jury in In re: Nexium found that AstraZeneca had violated the antitrust laws by acting to keep generics off the market but that no generic would have been introduced earlier in the market even without the violation. Thus, the jury found that the plaintiffs were not entitled to relief. 

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Civil Antitrust Attorneys Receive Wire-Tap Evidence

The Canada Supreme Court ruled earlier this month that civil antitrust plaintiffs may receive wire-tap evidence obtained in the criminal investigation into an alleged price-fixing scheme by several large gas companies. During the criminal investigation, the Competition Bureau of Canada intercepted and recorded more than 220,000 private communications which it used to bring antitrust proceedings against 54 persons.

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Second Circuit Aluminum Warehousing Appeal Halted Until SCOTUS Weighs In

On October 23, 2014, the Second Circuit agreed to hold an appeal in abeyance until the U.S. Supreme Court rules on an issue of appellate procedure in Gelboim v. Bank of America Corp. (formerly known as In re LIBOR-Based Financial Instruments Antitrust Litigation).

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What Is the Appropriate Market for Analyzing Amazon’s Alleged Power?

The current debate over whether Amazon holds the power of a monopolist or a monopsonist is likely to be narrowed to one question in a court room:  What is the relevant product market that Amazon is allegedly dominating?  Since our last post on the Amazon and Hachette dispute, there has been increased discussion in the general press, culminating with 2008 Nobel Prize winner for economics Paul Krugman telling readers of the New York Times that Amazon is a monopsonist.

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Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories Settles on Eve of Trial – Agrees to Cooperate with Plaintiffs

Much has happened since our last post on the Nexium “pay for delay” class action lawsuit.  Jury selection began in the District of Massachusetts on Monday, October 20, 2014.  The day prior, one of the generic drug makers, Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories (“DRL”), settled with the plaintiffs and agreed to cooperate in plaintiffs’ case against AstraZeneca, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, and Ranbaxy Inc.

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In re Credit Default Swaps Antitrust Litigation: Big Banks Still Must Face Section 1 Sherman Act Claim

In a decision  upholding most of the class action antitrust claims against 12 of the world’s largest financial institutions, Judge Cote of the Southern District of New York held that the plaintiffs had standing and alleged sufficient facts to satisfy their Section 1 claim under the Sherman Act. While Judge Cote denied plaintiffs’ conspiracy to monopolize claim under Section 2 of the Sherman Act, she did suggest two ways antitrust plaintiffs could bring a conspiracy to monopolize claim even where an oligopoly, not a monopoly, is present.

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