The Antitrust Week In Review
Here are some of the developments in antitrust news this past week that we found interesting and are following.
F.T.C. Sues to Stop Blockbuster Chip Deal Between Nvidia and Arm. The Federal Trade Commission sued to block Nvidia’s $40 billion acquisition of a fellow chip company, Arm, halting what would be the biggest semiconductor industry deal in history. The F.T.C. said the deal between Nvidia, which makes chips, and Arm, which licenses chip technology, would stifle competition and harm consumers. The proposed deal would give Nvidia control over computing technology and designs that rival firms rely on to develop competing chips. This suit is the latest sign that under the Biden administration federal antitrust enforcers are getting more aggressive in combatting corporate consolidations.
First DOJ criminal wage-fixing antitrust case survives challenge. A U.S. Justice Department criminal antitrust case alleging a wage-fixing conspiracy for physical therapy services in Texas survived an early hurdle when a federal judge denied motions to dismiss charges in the novel prosecution. U.S. District Judge Amos Mazzant III’s ruling in Sherman, Texas, federal court preserves antitrust claims against two defendants charged in April in the Justice Department’s first criminal indictment for an alleged effort to restrain wages. The decision is essentially a warning to employers that U.S. antitrust enforcers will not shy from pursuing price-fixing charges concerning labor. The Biden administration has said labor markets will be a top focus for antitrust enforcement.
Facebook asks court to dismiss U.S. FTC antitrust lawsuit for good. Meta Platforms Inc’s (FB.O) Facebook asked a U.S. court on Wednesday to dismiss and not allow the refiling of an antitrust lawsuit by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission which urges a court to demand that the company sell two big subsidiaries. In its court filing, Facebook argued that the FTC had “no plausible factual support” for its claim that the company has the market clout to push up prices in the social network market. The social media giant also said the FTC failed to “plausibly establish” that Facebook acted illegally to protect a monopoly. Facebook also pressed again for FTC Chair Lina Khan to be recused from the matter, arguing that her participation in a vote to approve the lawsuit was improper because of her criticism of the company before she joined the agency.
U.S. Senate panel advances Biden’s pick Bedoya for FTC. The U.S. Senate Commerce Committee voted to advance law professor and privacy advocate Alvaro Bedoya’s nomination to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission. Although the committee deadlocked 14-14 on the nomination, under Senate rules the nomination will proceed to the full Senate for a vote. Bedoya, founding director of Georgetown Law’s Center on Privacy & Technology, is also a former chief counsel of the U.S. Senate Judiciary subcommittee on privacy, technology and the law. Bedoya, who has called privacy “a civil right,” has been skeptical of widespread, untargeted use of facial recognition technology and has argued that the software often makes mistakes, particularly when searching for the faces of African Americans, women and young people. If the Senate confirms Bedoya’s nomination, protecting privacy rights will likely become an even greater focus of the FTC.
Edited by Gary J. Malone