The Antitrust Week In Review
Here are some of the developments in antitrust news this past week that we found interesting and are following.
What U.S. Supreme Court took away from the FTC, Congress can give back. The U.S. Supreme Court, by a 9-0 vote, on Thursday gutted the Federal Trade Commission’s ability to force scam artists and companies that acted deceptively to return ill-gotten gains, ruling in favor of a criminally convicted payday lender who challenged the agency. The court, essentially, tossed out a practice that the FTC has used since the 1980s. The FTC, which enforces antitrust law and investigates deceptive practices, returned $11.2 billion to consumers over the past five years.
Senate Democrats, joined by Lisa Murkowski, confirm Vanita Gupta for a top Justice Dept. job. The Senate voted to confirm Vanita Gupta as associate attorney general on Wednesday, making her the first civil rights lawyer or woman of color to serve as the Justice Department’s No. 3 official. Ms. Gupta will oversee the department’s vast civil division, which is tasked with defending the Biden administration in court, as well as its antitrust, tax, and environment and natural resources divisions. She will also oversee the Civil Rights Division, which she once led, at a time when the Biden administration has vowed to use every tool at its disposal to combat systemic racism.
Epic CEO, Apple App Store chief to attend antitrust trial starting May 3. Epic Games Chief Executive Tim Sweeney will attend a weeks-long antitrust trial against Apple Inc, while the iPhone maker’s App Store chief Phil Schiller will be present, attorneys for each of the companies said on Wednesday. No cameras will be allowed during the trial starting May 3 in Oakland, California, between “Fortnite” creator Epic and Apple, U.S. Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers said during a pretrial conference on Wednesday. Epic last year implemented its own in-app payment system on iPhones to avoid Apple’s fees, a violation of Apple’s App Store rules. Apple removed Epic’s apps, including the blockbuster “Fortnite” game, from the store. Epic later filed an antitrust lawsuit alleging that Apple has abused its dominance in the market for mobile apps.
Stone Canyon wins U.S. antitrust approval to buy Morton Salt. K+S has won antitrust approval to sell its North and South American salt business, including Morton Salt, to Stone Canyon Industry Holdings LLC, the Justice Department said. As condition of the approval for the $3.2 billion deal, Stone Canyon is required to sell its evaporated salt business, the department said. “Without the divestiture, the proposed acquisition would substantially lessen competition in the sale of several types of evaporated salt, including round-can table salt, pharmaceutical-grade salt, and bulk evaporated salt,” the department said. Morton, which is owned by K+S, and US Salt, which is owned by Stone Canyon, are two of the three companies which make round-can table salt for the U.S. market and the only two companies which make pharmaceutical grade salt for the U.S. market which is needed for dialysis treatment and intravenous saline solutions, the department said.
Edited by Gary J. Malone