The Antitrust Week In Review
Here are some of the developments in antitrust news this past week that we found interesting and are following.
Justice Dept. to Abolish Movie Distribution Rules Dating to 1949. The Justice Department says that it plans to overturn antitrust-related movie distribution rules from the early days of Hollywood, citing an entertainment landscape that has been radically reshaped by technology. “We cannot pretend that the business of film distribution and exhibition remains the same,” Makan Delrahim, the antitrust chief at the Justice Department, said at an American Bar Association conference in Washington. “Changes over the course of more than half a century also have made it unlikely that the remaining defendants can reinstate their cartel.” The film distribution rules, known as the Paramount consent decrees, were enacted in 1949, a year after the United States Supreme Court ruled that Hollywood’s eight largest studios could not own theaters, and thus control the film business.
Apple, Intel file antitrust case vs SoftBank-owned firm over patent practices. Apple Inc and Intel Corp on Wednesday filed an antitrust lawsuit against Fortress Investment Group, alleging the SoftBank Group Corp unit stockpiled patents to hold up tech firms with lawsuits demanding as much as $5.1 billion. The lawsuit follows an earlier case that Intel filed against Fortress in October. Intel withdrew that lawsuit and on Wednesday filed a new version in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California with Apple joining as a plaintiff. Intel and Apple allege that Fortress and firms it either owned or whose patent portfolios it effectively controlled – and which do not make any technology products – stockpiled patents for the primary purpose of suing technology companies and did so in a manner that violated U.S. antitrust laws.
FTC chief says has ‘multiple’ investigations of tech platforms. The chairman of the Federal Trade Commission said that his agency had multiple investigations of tech platforms, in addition to its known probe of Facebook, but did not identify them. FTC Chair Joe Simons said the agency’s Technology Enforcement Division, or TED, was focusing its probes of multi-sided platforms on illegal conduct and mergers that previously won antitrust approval. “We can say publicly that they’re investigating Facebook because Facebook disclosed that,” he told the American Bar Association 2019 Antitrust Fall Forum. “I also want to say that TED has in addition to Facebook, multiple other investigations going on into major platforms.”
Judge rejects U.S. move to disqualify states’ lawyer in T-Mobile/Sprint lawsuit. A federal judge on Thursday rejected a U.S. government effort to disqualify a lawyer arguing for 15 states and the District of Columbia in their effort to block T-Mobile US Inc’s planned $26.5 billion takeover of Sprint Corp. U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert Lehrburger said the Department of Justice waited too long to intervene in the case to try to disqualify Glenn Pomerantz, who had represented the department in 2011 when it stopped AT&T’s purchase of T-Mobile, and his law firm Munger, Tolles & Olson. Lehrburger ruled at a hearing in Manhattan federal court, less than three weeks before a scheduled Dec. 9 trial to determine whether T-Mobile, the third-largest U.S. wireless carrier, may go forward with its merger with Sprint, the fourth-largest.