January 4, 2016

The Antitrust Week In Review

Here are some of the developments in antitrust news this past week that we found interesting and are following:

RadioShack Antitrust Lawsuit: Sony, Samsung, Toshiba And Others Accused Of Illegal Price-Fixing Conspiracy.  The liquidation trustee for the former retail giant RadioShack is accusing five of the world’s largest consumer electronics companies of illegally conspiring to create an intricate price-fixing scheme that artificially inflated the cost of optical disk drives, a common component present in many devices, computers and appliances.  In a federal antitrust lawsuit filed Wednesday in Northern California, the trustee accused Sony Corporation, Toshiba Corporation, Samsung, Philips Electronics and Light-On IT Corp. of participating in a “six-year price-fixing conspiracy,” which allegedly took place from January 2004 until at least January 2010.

Dow and DuPont will merge in a $130-billion megadeal, then split 3 ways.  Industrial giants Dow Chemical Co. and DuPont Co. said Friday that they had agreed to merge and form a chemicals and agricultural powerhouse valued at $130 billion.  After the all-stock merger, the new company — to be called DowDuPont —plans to split again into three publicly traded companies, with one focused on agriculture, another on materials and plastics and a third on specialty products.  Given the proposed new company’s size, the deal is expected to receive antitrust scrutiny.

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Categories: Antitrust and Price Fixing, General

    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

      July 6, 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.

      Airlines Under Justice Dept. Investigation Over Possible Collusion.  Federal prosecutors are investigating possible collusion among airlines to limit seating, two years after the U.S. Department of Justice approved the latest in a wave of airline mergers, saying the combination would benefit consumers.  In letters sent to airlines, federal prosecutors have asked for documents from the last two years related to statements and decisions they have made about limiting capacity on flight routes.  By making it harder for passengers to find seats, airlines could restrain competition and increase fares.

      Apple ‘assessing next steps’ after e-books antitrust ruling.  Apple is assessing its next steps after the decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirming the district court decision that the iPad maker conspired with five publishers to increase e-book prices.  In a statement issued after the appellate court handed down its 2-1 decision, the company maintained that it did not conspire to fix e-book prices, as the U.S. Department of Justice contends.

      Study Suggests That Google Has Its Thumb on Scale in Search.  A study by top academics at Harvard and Columbia suggests that Google sometimes alters results to play up its own content.  The study, which was paid for by  Yelp, the online review website that is one of Google’s rivals, could renew calls for government regulators — in particular, the Federal Trade Commission — to reopen an investigation into Google for unfairly promoting its own services.  The study may also provide ammunition to antitrust regulators in Europe who have accused the company of antitrust violations.

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      Categories: Antitrust and Price Fixing, Antitrust Litigation

        January 7, 2015

        European Commission Announces Agreement To Cap Interchange Fees For Card-Based Payments

        A View from Constantine Cannon’s London Office

        By Yulia Tosheva and James Ashe-Taylor

        The European Commission has announced that the European Parliament and the European Council have reached a long-awaited political agreement on the Commission’s proposal for a Regulation on Interchange Fees for Card-based Payment Transactions.

        The Regulation will introduce maximum fees for four-party card schemes’ consumer debit and credit cards, prevent card schemes from forcing retailers to accept all types of cards regardless of their fees, and establish transparency rules for all transactions. The Commission has already ruled that interchange fees set by MasterCard are in violation of EU antitrust laws and, after a seven-year court battle, MasterCard lost its final appeal before the European Court of Justice in September 2014.

        Interchange fees represent about 70% of the approximately 13 billion euros a year retailers pay banks to handle payment card transactions. The Regulation is expected to have a profound impact on the card industry as a whole but its effect is likely to be particularly felt in markets such as Germany, where average credit card rates stand at 1.8%, and Poland, where average debit card charges are 1.6%.

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        Categories: Antitrust and Price Fixing, Antitrust Enforcement, Antitrust Legislation, Antitrust Litigation, International Competition Issues

          April 1, 2014

          NLRB’s “Student-Athletes” Ruling Is Seen As Exposing School For Hypocrisy

          Last week’s decision by the National Labor Relations Board granting Northwestern University scholarship football players the right to unionize is sparking a debate over the hypocrisy of college sports.

          Constantine Cannon lawyers Gordon Schnell and David Scupp, who examined the NLRB decision in a post on this blog, express their views on the decision – and what it reveals about the big business of college sports – in an op-ed on cnn.com.  As Schnell and Scupp discuss in The hypocrisy of big-time college sports, amateurism in college sports is basically a myth that masks the reality that college athletes are employees who are responsible for the billions of dollars the NCAA and its members rake in each year.

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          Categories: Antitrust and Price Fixing

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