April 10, 2017

The Antitrust Week In Review

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

Qualcomm, NXP receive antitrust approval.  Smartphone chipmaker Qualcomm Inc has received approval from U.S. antitrust regulators for its proposed $47 billion acquisition of NXP Semiconductors NV, Qualcomm said in a statement on Tuesday.  The waiting period required for companies under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act has expired, the company said.  Additionally, Qualcomm said it is extending its cash tender offer for all outstanding shares of NXP.

US, EU Clear Chinese Takeover of Syngenta.  U.S. and European regulators have cleared a Chinese conglomerate’s proposed $43 billion acquisition of Swiss agribusiness giant Syngenta on condition it sells some businesses to satisfy anti-monopoly objections.  The Federal Trade Commission’s announcement comes alongside the approval by European regulators of the purchase by state-owned ChemChina.  It would be China’s biggest foreign acquisition to date.  ChemChina, also known as China National Chemical Corp., agreed to sell businesses that make an herbicide, an insecticide and a fungicide whose combined market shares with Syngenta would harm competition, the FTC and European Commission say.

McDonald’s accused of antitrust practices in France, Italy and Germany.  McDonald’s was accused in three separate complaints Tuesday of improperly driving up consumer costs in France, Italy, and Germany by forcing the company’s franchisees to swallow antitrust practices.  The fast-food giant abused its dominant market positions by requiring its franchise holders in the three European nations to display higher prices than those at company-operated sites, according to complaints that labor and consumer groups filed with competition authorities in those countries.  McDonald’s also charges excessively higher rents for franchise locations and imposes terms that restrict franchisees from shifting to other brands, the complaints allege.

Judge Puts Seattle Law Allowing Ride-Hailing Union on Hold.  A federal judge in Seattle on Tuesday temporarily blocked the city’s first-in-the-nation law allowing drivers of ride-hailing companies such as Uber and Lyft to unionize over pay and working conditions.  U.S. District Judge Robert Lasnik’s ruling came after he heard arguments last week in a case brought by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.  The chamber argues that federal antitrust and labor law trumps the city’s statute.  The judge said the chamber was unlikely to succeed on those claims or its chances were not clear but he put the law on hold because the lawsuits raised serious questions.

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Categories: Antitrust Enforcement, Antitrust Law and Monopolies, Antitrust Litigation, International Competition Issues

    March 13, 2017

    The Antitrust Week In Review

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

    Google foe takes Android complaint to regulators.  Open Internet Project, whose members include Axel Springer and Getty Images, on Tuesday accused Alphabet unit Google of imposing anti-competitive curbs on Android smartphone makers, its second complaint against the U.S. tech giant.  The group, which lodged a complaint about Google’s comparison shopping service with the European Commission about three years ago, urged the EU competition authority to take action.  “Google once again, in breach of EU antitrust rules, abused its dominant position by imposing restrictions on Android device manufacturers and mobile network operators, aiming to preserve and strengthen its dominance in general internet search,” OIP said in a statement.

    Chicago hospital system scraps merger over U.S. antitrust concern.  NorthShore University HealthSystem said on Tuesday it was scrapping plans to merge with another Chicago hospital system after losing a court fight with U.S. antitrust regulators who said the merged hospital system would control more than half the area’s general acute care inpatient services.  NorthShore said in a statement that a federal judge had ruled for the Federal Trade Commission, which argued that NorthShore’s deal to merge with Advocate Health Care violated U.S. antitrust law and would harm consumers by hiking healthcare costs and reducing incentives to upgrade services and improve quality, according to the December, 2015 complaint.

    Turkey to Investigate Antitrust Complaint Against Google.  Google faced another regulatory challenge last week when the authorities in Turkey opened an investigation into whether the search giant’s popular Android software had broken the country’s antitrust rules.  The investigation in Turkey is the latest legal problem for Google, which faces three separate competition charges in Europe and has already been found to breach antitrust legislation in Russia.  United States officials have also investigated the company over its Android and search services, but they have not brought a case.

    Court Upholds Foundation’s Antitrust Immunity.  A federal appeals court on Thursday ruled Edinboro University and its foundation are protected from antitrust laws after a group of local landlords claimed a conspiracy to monopolize the student housing market around the public university in northwestern Pennsylvania.  But the decision more narrowly interprets the university’s governmental antitrust immunity than did a lower court’s ruling.

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    Categories: Antitrust Enforcement, Antitrust Law and Monopolies, Antitrust Litigation, International Competition Issues

      May 6, 2016

      Third Circuit Shows No Love For Lovenox® Bundling Theory

      By Ankur Kapoor

      Citing the well-known maxim that the antitrust laws are concerned with “the protection of competition, not competitors,” the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit on Wednesday affirmed summary judgment for Defendant Sanofi Aventis on Plaintiff Eisai, Inc.’s claim that Sanofi foreclosed competition in the market for anticoagulant drugs administered in hospitals.

      Eisai alleged that Sanofi dominated that market with its Lovenox® product.  In addition to being FDA-approved for the treatment and prevention of deep-vein thrombosis (DVT), a potentially life-threatening condition in which a blood clot (thrombus) could break loose and into the bloodstream, Lovenox® is FDA-approved for six other indications, including the treatment of severe forms of heart attack.  Eisai’s Fragmin® competes with Lovenox® for treatment of DVT and is approved for four other indications, but not for treatment of severe forms of heart attack.  According to the court, there are two other injectable anticoagulants in the relevant product market: LEO Pharma’s Innohep® and GlaxoSmithKline’s Arixtra®.

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      Categories: Antitrust and Intellectual Property Law, Antitrust Law and Monopolies, Antitrust Litigation

        September 14, 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.

        Banks to Settle With Investors in Suit Over Financial Crisis.  Twelve of the largest banks in the world are apparently on the verge of paying $1.865 billion to settle accusations that they illegally conspired to control a derivatives market that stood at the center of the financial crisis.  The banks have faced public criticism since the financial crisis for the opaque manner in which their traders bought and sold credit default swaps, a type of financial contract that allows investors to speculate and hedge against losses and that figured prominently in the crisis.

        U.S. doctors group says planned health mergers are anti-competitive.  The American Medical Association, the leading U.S. physicians’ organization, is arguing that two proposed mergers of U.S. health insurers worth tens of billions of dollars could lead to higher prices in 17 states for companies that buy insurance for their workers or people who buy their own insurance.  Aetna announced plans to buy smaller rival Humana in early July, and Anthem agreed to buy Cigna later that month.  Both mergers are being reviewed by the U.S. Department of Justice and state insurance officials.

        EU regulators to rule on $16.7 billion Intel, Altera deal by October 14.  European Union antitrust regulators will decide by Oct. 14 whether to clear U.S. chipmaker Intel’s $16.7 billion bid for Altera Corp, its largest ever deal.  The EU competition authority can either clear the deal with or without conditions in a preliminary review or open a full-scale investigation.

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        Categories: Antitrust Law and Monopolies, Antitrust Litigation, International Competition Issues

          July 20, 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.

          Accusing Amazon of Antitrust Violations, Authors and Booksellers Demand Inquiry.  Five years after Amazon asked antitrust regulators to investigate leading publishers, groups representing thousands of authors, agents and independent booksellers are asking the United States Department of Justice to examine Amazon for antitrust violations.  The Authors Guild, the American Booksellers Association, the Association of Authors’ Representatives and Authors United said in letters and statements to the Justice Department that “Amazon has used its dominance in ways that we believe harm the interests of America’s readers, impoverish the book industry as a whole, damage the careers of (and generate fear among) many authors, and impede the free flow of ideas in our society.”

          U.S. consumer groups oppose Teva bid for generic drug rival Mylan.  A proposed merger of the two largest U.S. generic drug makers is drawing fire from Consumers Union and seven other groups, who are asking antitrust enforcers to stop Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd’s proposal to purchase Mylan NV, saying it would lead to higher prices and more drug shortages.  Although there is no deal yet, the groups are concerned about recent takeover efforts. In their letter to Federal Trade Commission Chairwoman Edith Ramirez, the groups urged the FTC to look at more than just overlapping drugs made by both companies, to determine if a merger of drug makers is legal.

          BRF, Vantage file antitrust suit against Willis-Knighton.  Biomedical Research Foundation and Louisiana insurer Vantage Health Plan are predicting “catastrophic” consequences to health care in northern Louisiana if Willis-Knighton Health System is allowed to strengthen what BRF and Vantage say is already a monopoly.  BRF and Vantage have filed an antitrust lawsuit in federal court to block what they allege is an anticompetitive scheme by Willis-Knighton Health System to steal commercially insured patients in Louisiana.

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          Categories: Antitrust Enforcement, Antitrust Law and Monopolies

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