The Antitrust Week In Review
Here are some of the developments in antitrust news this past week that we found interesting and are following.
In setback for Apple, U.S. Supreme Court lets App Store antitrust suit proceed. A divided U.S. Supreme Court last Monday gave the go-ahead to an antitrust lawsuit accusing Apple Inc. of forcing consumers to overpay for iPhone software applications, a decision that could lead to billions of dollars in damages and put at risk the company’s lucrative way of selling apps. In a 5-4 ruling, the justices upheld a lower court’s decision to allow the proposed class action lawsuit to proceed. The consumer plaintiffs claim Apple monopolized the market in violation of federal antitrust law by requiring that apps be sold through its App Store and extracting an excessive 30 percent commission on purchases.
Courts, States Investigating Hotel Antitrust Claims. Expedia and major hotel companies were already facing two federal lawsuits alleging that they conspired to stifle competition. Now they’re also being investigated by Utah’s attorney general. In documents filed last week in Utah, the attorney general’s office revealed it’s investigating whether Marriott, Hilton and other hotel companies and Expedia violated antitrust laws. Utah-based TravelPass Group, a tech company that matches customers to available hotel rooms, claims the hotels and Expedia worked together to limit the results of Google searches, which hurt competition and kept prices high.
Facebook Breakup Would Be Solution of Last Resort: EU’s Vestager. A break-up of U.S. social media company Facebook would be a solution of last resort that would probably generate long judicial procedures, EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said on Friday. The EU antitrust chief was asked about Facebook at the VivaTech technology conference in Paris after leading U.S. Democratic politicians and one of Facebook’s co-founders recently spoke in favor of a break-up of the company. “Of course it would be a remedy of very last resort. I think it would keep us in court for maybe a decade. It is much more direct and maybe much more powerful to say we need access to data,” Vestager told reporters.
Novartis vows to fight U.S. price-fixing claims against Sandoz unit. Novartis aid claims of price fixing against its Sandoz generics unit amid a U.S. probe of 20 drugmakers are without merit, with the Swiss company vowing to fight allegations in a lawsuit. “We believe that these claims are without merit and will vigorously contest them,” Novartis said. “Sandoz takes its obligations under the antitrust laws seriously. We will continue to be committed to providing high-quality, affordable medicines to U.S. patients, and conducting business with customers and the government with integrity.”