October 8, 2015

European Parliament Adopts Revised Directive On Payment Services (PSD2)

A View from Constantine Cannon’s London Office

By James Ashe-Taylor and Yulia Tosheva

The European Parliament formally adopted the revised Directive on Payment Services (PSD2) today.

The new law, proposed by the European Commission in July 2013, aims to enhance consumer protection, innovation and security of payment services.  Among the key changes introduced by the new rules are the following:

Introduction of strict security requirements for the initiation and processing of electronic payments and the protection of consumers’ financial data.

Opening the European Union payment market for companies offering innovative payment services based on access to payment accounts – the so-called “payment initiation services providers” and “account information services providers.”

Enhancing consumers’ rights in numerous areas, including reducing the liability for non-authorised payments and introducing an unconditional (“no questions asked”) refund right for direct debits in euros.

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Categories: Antitrust Legislation, International Competition Issues

    October 7, 2015

    NCCA Gains Ground Against Student-Athletes In Appeal Of O’Bannon Case

    By David Scupp

    Last week, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that the NCAA may restrict colleges from compensating student-athletes beyond the cost of attendance, handing the NCAA a partial victory in its continuing courtroom fight against athletes’ rights.

    The Ninth Circuit affirmed in part and vacated in part Judge Claudia Wilken’s landmark holding in O’Bannon v. National Collegiate Athletic Association, et al., an antitrust class action brought by former All-American UCLA basketball player Ed O’Bannon, challenging the NCAA’s restrictions on compensation to Division I basketball and FBS football players for use of their name, image, and likeness (“NIL”).

    After a bench trial, Judge Wilken analyzed the legality of the NCAA’s restrictions under the rule of reason, and permanently enjoined the NCAA from enforcing its blanket restriction on FBS football and Division I basketball collegiate athletes receiving any portion of the licensing revenue generated from the use of the players’ NILs.  Specifically, Judge Wilken identified two less-restrictive alternatives to achieve the limited pro-competitive benefits of the current NCAA restrictions: (1) allowing schools to award stipends to athletes up to the full cost of attendance, thereby making up for any shortfall in their grants-in-aid, and (2) permitting schools to hold a portion of their licensing revenues in trust, up to $5,000 per year, to be distributed to athletes in equal shares after they leave college.  Our analysis of the district court’s opinion can be found here.

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    Categories: Antitrust Litigation

      October 5, 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.

      Court Strikes Down Payments to College Athletes. The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that the N.C.A.A. may restrict colleges from compensating athletes beyond the cost of attendance, handing the college sports establishment a victory in its fight against athletes’ rights. The appeals court held that limiting student athletes’ compensation to the cost of attendance in exchange for use of their names, images and likenesses was sufficient under antitrust law.

      EU antitrust chief says Apple, Google cases show no U.S. bias. Europe’s antitrust chief is dismissing accusations of anti-U.S. bias over her decision to go after Google for abusing its Internet search dominance and Apple over an Irish tax deal. European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager is defending herself against criticisms in U.S. media for several cases opened over the past year against U.S. giants such as Google, Apple, Amazon and Starbucks. According to the antitrust enforcer, the nationality of companies played no role in her assessment.

      Swiss Regulator Is Examining Precious-Metals Market. Switzerland’s Competition Commission is investigating seven financial institutions, including the Swiss banks UBS and Julius Baer, over potential collusion to manipulate the precious-metals market. The antitrust regulator announced that it was examining whether there was collusion among banks around the bid-ask spread in the trading of gold, silver, platinum and palladium. The financial institutions are Barclays, Deutsche Bank, HSBC, Julius Baer, Morgan Stanley and UBS, and the trading house Mitsui & Company Precious Metals, a unit of Mitsui & Company of Japan.

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      Categories: Antitrust Enforcement, Antitrust Litigation, International Competition Issues

        September 28, 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.

        F.T.C. is Said to Investigate Claims that Google Used Android to Promote Its Products.  Google’s world wide regulatory problems are coming back home to the U.S.  The Federal Trade Commission has started investigating complaints that Google unfairly uses its Android mobile operating system to bolster such popular Google products as Google Search and Google Maps, according to sources involved in the inquiry.

        EU Launches Extensive Probe into Staples’ Bid for Office Depot.  EU antitrust regulators have opened an extensive investigation into U.S. office supplier Staples’ $6.3 billion bid for rival Office Depot out of concerns of possible price hikes as a result of the deal.  In the U.S., the Federal Trade Commission is also examining the deal, which has received the green light from competition authorities in China, Australia and New Zealand.

        U.S. Insurance Mega Mergers Could Hurt Care: Psychiatric Group.  The American Psychiatric Association is warning U.S. antitrust regulators that two proposed health insurance deals could worsen access to mental health care services, adding to public opposition from several prominent doctors groups.  Anthem Inc. would become the largest U.S. health insurer if a proposed $47 billion acquisition of Cigna Corp., is consummated.  Aetna Inc. is seeking to buy Humana Inc., which would make that insurer the largest provider of Medicare plans for older people.

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        Categories: Antitrust Enforcement

          September 21, 2015

          The Antitrust Week In Review

          Justice department seeks more information on Aetna, Humana deal.  The U.S. Department of Justice is asking health insurer Aetna Inc. for more information about its pending $37 billion acquisition of Humana Inc.  The Justice Department’s “second request” will delay by 30 days the expiration of the waiting period under the Hart–Scott–Rodino antitrust act, Aetna said in a regulatory filing.  Aetna’s offer to buy Humana and rival health insurer Anthem Inc.’s $48 billion offer for Cigna Inc. are expected to face close scrutiny from regulators due to concerns that the two deals could lead to higher insurance prices.

          Antitrust Nod for Expedia to Buy Orbitz.  The Justice Department will not try to block the acquisition of travel booking site Orbitz by its larger rival Expedia, clearing the way for the companies to complete their $1.3 billion merger.  Hotel companies, along with some consumer advocates and lawmakers, have raised concerns over the potential market power of the combined company, which would control about 75 percent of the domestic market for third-party online booking.  However, the Justice Department’s antitrust enforcers concluded that the acquisition is unlikely to harm competition and consumers.

          Petco begins merger talks with PetSmart – sources.  Petco Holdings Inc. is exploring the possibility of being acquired by PetSmart Inc., according to sources.  Such a merger could result in a company with some 30 percent of U.S. pet specialty supplies stores.

          GE among bidders for Halliburton’s assets: Bloomberg.  General Electric Co. is bidding for pieces of Halliburton Co.’s drilling services and drilling bits businesses, as the latter seeks regulatory approval to buy Baker Hughes Inc., according to Bloomberg.  U.S. antitrust enforcers are concerned that the proposed $35 billion deal for Halliburton to acquire smaller rival Baker Hughes would lead to higher prices and less innovation in the oilfield services industry.

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          Categories: Antitrust Enforcement, General

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