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The Antitrust Week In Review

Posted  March 29, 2021

Here are some of the developments in antitrust news this past week that we found interesting and are following.

NCAA takes on student-athletes in U.S. Supreme Court compensation dispute.  As the annual U.S. ritual of the “March Madness” college basketball tournament unfolds, the Supreme Court is poised to hear the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s bid to preserve its limits on education-related compensation for student-athletes. The justices next week are set to hear oral arguments in an appeal by the NCAA, the major governing body for U.S. intercollegiate sports, of a lower court decision last year that deemed the organization’s rules anticompetitive under a federal law called the Sherman Antitrust Act. Although the case does not involve direct payments to athletes, the broader question of player compensation has increasingly become a point of contention. College sports rake in billions of dollars in revenue but players remain tied to what critics call a fiction of amateurism.

Lundbeck loses fight against EU antitrust fine in pay-for-delay deals.  Danish drugmaker Lundbeck on Thursday lost its fight against a 2013 EU antitrust fine imposed for deals with rivals to delay sales of generic copies of its anti-depressant citalopram after Europe’s top court sided with EU enforcers. The case is one of several in the European Commission’s decade-long crackdown against pay-for-delay deals which it says hurt competition and hold back innovation. The EU competition enforcer had imposed a combined fine of 146 million euros ($172 million) on Lundbeck and five generic drugmakers for such deals, prompting the companies to challenge the ruling at the General Court which upheld the EU decision in 2016. The drugmakers subsequently appealed to the Luxembourg-based Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) which on Thursday dismissed all six motions and agreed with the lower tribunal that such deals were aimed at blocking rivals.

Biden to nominate tech critic Lina Khan as an FTC commissioner.  U.S. President Joe Biden intends to nominate Lina Khan, an antitrust researcher who has focused her work on Big Tech’s immense market power, to be a commissioner on the Federal Trade Commission, the White House said. Khan, who teaches at Columbia Law School, is highly respected by progressive antitrust thinkers, who have pushed for tougher antitrust laws or at least tougher enforcement of existing law. Her nomination follows on the heels of the selection of fellow progressive and Big Tech critic Tim Wu to join the National Economic Council. If confirmed, Khan will return to the FTC where she was a legal adviser to Commissioner Rohit Chopra, Biden’s pick to be director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Credit Suisse hit with extra EU antitrust charges in forex probe.  Credit Suisse has been hit with additional European Union antitrust charges, it said on Monday, three years after EU enforcers charged the Swiss bank with rigging foreign exchange rates in an almost decade-long case. The financial sector has been in the EU antitrust crosshairs for nearly a decade for rigging key interest benchmarks, government bonds and foreign exchange rates, resulting in billions of euros in fines imposed on various banks. The European Commission had in July 2018 sent a charge sheet known as a statement of objections to Credit Suisse, Switzerland’s second-biggest bank. Five years before that, the EU executive had indicated an investigation in this area. Statement of objections typically set out anti-competitive activities uncovered by regulators which could lead to fines as much as 10% of a company’s global turnover.

Edited by Gary J. Malone

Tagged in: Antitrust Enforcement, Antitrust Litigation, International Competition Issues,