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. FTC moves for rehearing of Qualcomm antitrust defeat. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission on Friday filed a motion to rehear an antitrust lawsuit it lost on appeal against chip firm Qualcomm Inc. The regulator asked the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals for an “en banc” hearing before an 11-judge panel. Last month, a three-judge panel at the appeals court reversed a lower court decision against the San Diego-based company, the largest supplier of chips for mobile phones and a major source of wireless communications technology for 5G networks. The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals also vacated an injunction that would have required Qualcomm to change its intellectual property licensing practices.
Blue Cross Insurers Reach Tentative Settlement in Antitrust Lawsuit. The nation’s Blue Cross plans have reached a tentative $2.7 billion settlement in a federal lawsuit filed by their customers that accuses the group of engaging in a conspiracy to thwart competition among the individual companies, according to two people with knowledge of the discussions. The settlement, which was first reported by The Wall Street Journal, would need to be agreed to by each of the three dozen Blue Cross insurers that make up the trade group, the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association. Judge R. David Proctor of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama, who is overseeing the case in that state, also still needs to approve the proposed settlement. Under the proposed terms, the Blue Cross plans, which operate independently, would no longer have to adhere to some of the rules established by the association that the plaintiffs said prevent the companies from engaging in head-to-head competition.
Apple critics form coalition to challenge App Store fees. A group of Apple Inc’s critics – including Spotify Technology SA, Match Group Inc and “Fortnite” creator Epic Games – have joined a nonprofit group that plans to advocate for legal and regulatory action to challenge the iPhone maker’s App Store practices. Apple charges a commission of between 15%-30% for apps that use its in-app payment system and sets out extensive rules for apps in its App Store, which is the only way Apple allows consumers to download native apps to devices such as the iPhone. Those practices have drawn criticism and formal legal complaints from some developers.
House antitrust panel announces hearing as D.C. awaits Big Tech repo. A U.S. House panel plans to hold an Oct. 1 hearing on proposals to strengthen antitrust laws and restore online competition as it nears release of a long-awaited report on Big Tech. The House of Representatives Judiciary Committee’s antitrust subcommittee is expected to soon release a much-anticipated deep dive into antitrust allegations against four of America’s largest tech companies and recommendations.
Edited by Gary J. Malone