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. Senate passes bill to raise fees on biggest mergers. The U.S. Senate passed a bill on Tuesday that would increase fees that companies planning the biggest mergers pay to government antitrust agencies and give those agencies bigger budgets. The bill – co-sponsored by Democrat Amy Klobuchar, the top antitrust senator, and Chuck Grassley, the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee – would lower the fee for smaller mergers under $161.5 million to $30,000 from $45,000. But for deals worth $5 billion or more, the fee would rise to $2.25 million from $280,000. “Now that my bill with Senator Grassley passed the Senate, the Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division are one step closer to having additional resources to conduct rigorous reviews of large mergers,” Klobuchar said in a statement.
Fed Circ punts patent-related antitrust case for lack of patent issue. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit on Thursday moved antitrust claims based on a patent to a sister circuit, finding it lacked jurisdiction over the case because it didn’t arise under U.S. patent law. Antitrust claims based on allegedly fraudulent patents don’t “inherently” present substantial issues of patent law, U.S. Circuit Judge Todd Hughes wrote for a three-judge panel that transferred the case to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Appellant Chandler Mfg LLC sued Phoenix Services LLC in Wichita Falls, Texas federal court in 2019 under the Sherman Antitrust Act accusing the company of receiving a patent monopoly on its fracking-related technology through fraud at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, which is known as a Walker Process claim under antitrust law.
U.S. appeals court throws out FTC complaint against 1-800 Contacts. A U.S. appeals court on Friday threw out a complaint that the Federal Trade Commission brought against 1-800 Contacts, instructing the agency, which enforces antitrust law, to dismiss it. The agency had filed a lawsuit against 1-800 Contacts in 2016, accusing it of illegally reaching agreements with other sellers that required them to refrain from advertising to consumers who had searched online for 1-800 Contacts. In exchange, 1-800 Contacts agreed not to advertise to individuals who searched for the names of rivals. The FTC said the agreements were unlawful, but 1-800 Contacts disagreed and has fought the agency in an administrative FTC proceeding and in a federal appeals court.
Edited by Gary J. Malone