The Antitrust Week In Review
Here are some of the developments in antitrust news this past week that we found interesting and are following.
Writers Union Says Talent Agents Are Violating Antitrust Law. The Writers Guild of America filed claims last week in federal court alleging the entertainment industry’s biggest talent agencies are violating antitrust and anti-racketeering laws, the latest move in a long and heated battle between those who write scripts and the agents who represent them. The filings are a response to lawsuits filed by three agencies in recent months alleging the Writers Guild has itself violated antitrust law with organized actions in the dispute, including the mass firing of agents by thousands of writers in April. At issue are so-called packaging fees, where talent agencies combine elements including writers, scripts or actors — most often on television series — and sell them directly to studios as a unit. Constantine Cannon is one of the firms representing the Writers Guild in this matter.
Qualcomm Wins Reprieve in F.T.C. Antitrust Case With Appeals Court Ruling. The chip maker Qualcomm does not have to modify key business practices while a federal appeals court reviews an antitrust ruling against it, the court ruled on Friday, a win for the company and a blow to the Federal Trade Commission in a closely watched legal battle. The ruling, by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, stayed the effects of an injunction issued in May by Judge Lucy Koh of Federal District Court. The injunction was a victory for the trade commission, which accused Qualcomm in 2017 of using its monopoly status as the supplier of two kinds of wireless chips to compel handset makers to pay “onerous” fees for the use of its patents.
EU antitrust regulators raise concerns about Facebook’s Libra currency: sources. EU antitrust regulators want to know whether Facebook’s (FB.O) proposed Libra cryptocurrency and its use of consumer data pose possible anti-competitive constraints, people familiar with the matter said on Wednesday. European Commission sent out a questionnaire earlier this month to various parties involved in Libra, giving respondents two to three weeks to provide feedback, the people said. By sending out a questionnaire, the EU could be preparing the ground for a formal investigation. The EU competition enforcer’s main focus is on the use of consumer data, the people said.
U.S. Justice Department teams up with states on probe of Big Tech firms. The U.S. Justice Department is working with a group of more than a dozen state attorneys general as it moves forward with a broad investigation into major technology companies, the department’s antitrust chief, Makan Delrahim, said on Tuesday. Delrahim said at a tech conference in Colorado the government is looking at previously approved acquisitions as part of a broad antitrust review announced in July of major tech firms with significant market power. “Those are some of the questions that are being raised … whether those were nascent competitors that may or may not have been wise to approve,” Delrahim said. “Whether the intention of the incumbent was to purchase some of those competitors, I don’t know. I’m not privy to the facts of each of those investigations.”