September 26, 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.

China Vitamin C Price-Fixing Verdict Voided by U.S. Appeals Court.  The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit on Tuesday threw out a $147.8 million price-fixing verdict against two Chinese companies that were accused of conspiring to raise prices and lower supply of vitamin C sold to U.S. purchasers.  The Court of Appeals said the case should not have gone to trial after China, in a “historic act,” formally advised that its laws required the vitamin C makers to violate the Sherman Act, a U.S. antitrust law.  Writing for a 3-0 panel, Circuit Judge Peter Hall said the Brooklyn judge who presided over the March 2013 jury verdict should have deferred to China’s interpretation of its own laws, regardless of the country’s motives.

35 US States Sue British Drugmaker Over Marketing of Opioid.  Thirty-five states and the District of Columbia filed an antitrust lawsuit Thursday alleging that British drugmaker Indivior tried to keep cheaper, generic versions of Suboxone off the market, California’s attorney general announced.  The complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania also names New Jersey’s MonoSol Rx, a pharmaceutical dissolving-film company, for conspiring to corner the market on the popular medication used to treat people hooked on heroin and other painkillers.

Exclusive: Japan’s Antitrust Watchdog Considers Action Against Apple, Carriers – Sources.  Japanese regulators are considering taking action against Apple Inc. over possible antitrust violations that may have helped it dominate the nation’s smartphone sales, government sources said, a move that could hit the company’s profit margins in one of its most profitable markets.  In a report published last month, Japan’s Fair Trade Commission said that NTT Docomo, KDDI Corp and Softbank Group were refusing to sell older surplus iPhone models to third party retailers, thereby hobbling smaller competitors.  Apple was not named in that report, but two senior government sources told Reuters that regulators were also focusing on Apple’s supply agreements with all three carriers.

Google Gets More Time to Counter EU Antitrust Charge on Android.  Alphabet’s Google has been given an extra three weeks to respond to EU antitrust charges that it abused its dominant Android mobile operating system to squeeze out rivals, the European Commission said on Tuesday.  The U.S. tech giant had been due to file a response by Tuesday, but said it needed more time and will now reply by Oct. 7, a Commission spokesman said, the third extension of the deadline.  The Commission in April accused Google of harming consumers because it required mobile phone makers to pre-install Google Search and the Google Chrome browser on their smartphones to access other Google apps.

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Categories: Antitrust Litigation, International Competition Issues

    September 12, 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.

    New York Attorney General Launches Antitrust Probe of Mylan’s EpiPen Contracts.  New York state’s attorney general on Tuesday opened an investigation into pharmaceuticals giant Mylan, focused on its contracts with local school systems to buy its lifesaving EpiPens.  The skyrocketing price of those auto-injection devices, used to counteract potentially fatal allergic reactions, has drawn intense criticism of the company this summer.  The office of Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said it launched its probe after a preliminary review revealed Mylan might have inserted anti-competitive terms into its deals to sell EpiPens.

    Mastercard Sued for 14 Billion Pounds in Britain’s Biggest Damages Claim.  About 46 million people in Britain could potentially benefit from a legal case brought against Mastercard demanding 14 billion pounds ($19 billion) in damages for allegedly charging excessive fees, according to court documents filed in London.  The case brought by a former chief financial services ombudsman alleges the payments company set unlawfully high fees charged to stores when shoppers swipe their debit or credit cards that were passed on to consumers in higher prices.  Mastercard was accused of doing this for 16 years between 1992 and 2008, according to the documents filed at the Competition Appeal Tribunal on Thursday.

    Google Given More Time to Reply to EU Antitrust Charge on Android.  Alphabet’s Google has been given two more weeks to counter EU antitrust charges that it uses its dominant Android mobile operating system to block competitors, the European Commission said on Thursday.  The EU competition enforcer in April accused the U.S. technology giant of harming consumers because of its demand that mobile phone makers pre-install Google Search and the Google Chrome browser on their smartphones to access other Google apps.  Google was initially given until July 27 to respond to the charges but asked for an extension to Sept. 7.

    As US Puts Breaks on Megadeals, Walgreens Prepares to Unload.  Walgreens believes that it will probably have to unload more stores than expected to ease antitrust concerns over its pending, $9.41 billion acquisition of Rite Aid, a deal that would make the nation’s largest drugstore chain even larger.  While it still expects to complete the acquisition this year, the Deerfield, Illinois, company said Thursday that it will probably have to divest more than 500 stores.  The company previously said that it expected to divest 500 or fewer.

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    Categories: Antitrust Enforcement, Antitrust Litigation, International Competition Issues

      September 6, 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.

      U.S. sues to stop Deere from buying Precision Planting.  The U.S. Justice Department filed a lawsuit on Wednesday aimed at stopping Deere & Co from buying Monsanto Co’s Precision Planting farm equipment business.  The Justice Department said the proposed deal would mean higher prices for farmers who want to buy equipment for high-speed precision planting, which allows farmers to plant row crops like corn up to twice as fast as with conventional machinery.   Deere said in a statement that it would fight the lawsuit, saying that the Justice Department’s antitrust concerns were “misguided.”

      China Opens Antitrust Investigation Into Uber’s Deal With Didi.  The authorities in China are investigating Uber’s planned sale of its Chinese operations to a local rival, complicating a deal intended to bring the American ride-share operator’s costly venture there to an end.  At a daily news briefing on Friday, Shen Danyang, a spokesman for the Chinese Commerce Ministry, said the inquiry was prompted by local concerns about Uber’s plan to sell the business to Didi Chuxing, of China.  The deal, announced last month, would create a company worth about $35 billion that would hold a strong position in the Chinese market for hailing cars via smartphone apps.

      Nexstar wins U.S. antitrust approval to merge with Media General.  Nexstar Broadcast Group has won U.S. antitrust approval to buy Media General Corp on condition that it sell seven television stations, the Justice Department said on Friday.  The $4.6 billion dollar deal had been announced in January.

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      Categories: Antitrust Enforcement, Antitrust Litigation, International Competition Issues

        August 29, 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.

        Mylan May Have Violated Antitrust Law in Its EpiPen Sales to Schools.  Schools across the country keep EpiPens in their nurses’ offices in case a student has a severe allergic reaction.  For years, Mylan Pharmaceuticals has been selling the devices to schools at a discounted price, giving them a break from rising costs.  But the program also prohibited schools from buying competitors’ devices — a provision that experts say may have violated antitrust law.

        Uber Wins Halt to N.Y. Price-Fixing Lawsuit During Appeal.  A federal judge on Friday granted a request by Uber Technologies Inc. and its chief executive officer to put a passenger’s price-fixing lawsuit against them on hold while they appeal his refusal to let them arbitrate the dispute. Calling his decision a “close call,” U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff in Manhattan said the defendants had not made a “strong showing” that their appeal would likely succeed, though they would face irreparable harm if arbitration were wrongfully denied.  But he said the appeals court could clarify whether Spencer Meyer, the Connecticut plaintiff, and others like him consent to arbitration when they buy services subject to conditions in “clickwrap” and “browsewrap” agreements found online.

        Senate Committee to Scrutinize DuPont-Dow Merger.  The head of U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee has called for hearings next month on the proposed merger between the DuPont Co. and Dow Chemical, as well as on broader issues of consolidation within the seed and chemical industry.  Committee Chairman Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said Wednesday that Iowans are concerned that consolidation could result in higher production costs in an already declining agriculture economy.  The deal is being scrutinized by Justice Department and European antitrust authorities.

        Tesla Wins U.S. Antitrust Approval to Buy SolarCity.  Tesla Motors Inc. has won U.S. antitrust approval to buy solar panel installer SolarCity Corp., moving closer to its goal of creating a carbon-free energy and transportation company.  The Federal Trade Commission said on Thursday that the deal was approved.  It was on a list of proposed transactions that were granted quickly because the merging partners have few or no overlaps.

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        Categories: Antitrust Enforcement, Antitrust Legislation, Antitrust Litigation

          August 22, 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.

          U.S. senator expresses concern about ag tech mergers.  Two major mergers in agricultural technology and seeds could hurt competition in the industry and make it harder for smaller companies to compete, Senator Charles Grassley, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, wrote in a letter on Wednesday sent to antitrust enforcers.  Grassley, a Republican from Iowa, urged the Federal Trade Commission, which is reviewing the purchase of Syngenta AG by the China National Chemical Corp, and the Justice Department, which is looking at the merger of Dow Chemical Co and DuPont Co, to coordinate on the two reviews.

          Aetna warned it would cut Obamacare if Humana deal was blocked.  Aetna Inc warned in July that it would exit much of the individual Obamacare health insurance market if the government challenged its deal to buy rival Humana Inc, according to a letter it sent to the U.S. Department of Justice.  The public release of the letter came after Aetna said that it would pull out of selling individual insurance on the government-run websites in 11 states, citing financial losses on the business.  The Justice Department moved on July 21 to block Aetna’s acquisition of Humana and Anthem Inc’s purchase of Cigna Corp after an antitrust review, saying the two deals would lead to higher prices.

          Utah Firm That Finds Distant Heirs Accused in Antitrust Case.  Federal prosecutors filed an antitrust case Wednesday against a Salt Lake City-based company that’s part of a little-known industry specializing in tracking down heirs to unclaimed inheritances.  Kemp & Associates Inc. and executive Daniel Mannix are accused in an indictment of conspiring with other companies for more than 14 years so they wouldn’t have to compete with each other.  Prosecutors contend that strategy unfairly drove up prices for the heirs.

          Judge trims reverse payment claims against Endo, Impax over Opana.  A federal judge has trimmed state law claims brought by health plans in a class action lawsuit claiming that Endo Pharmaceuticals Inc paid a rival drugmaker to delay the launch of a generic version of Endo’s painkiller Opana ER, forcing the health plans to pay higher prices by preventing competition.  U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber in Chicago on Thursday dismissed unjust enrichment claims brought by the health plans against Endo and rival Impax Laboratories under Illinois and Rhode Island law, saying that those states do not allow indirect purchasers such as health plans to recover damages for antitrust injuries.

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          Categories: Antitrust Litigation

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