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The Antitrust Week In Review

Posted  August 10, 2020

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

U.S. judge ends decades-old movie theater rules governing Hollywood.  A federal judge on Friday granted the U.S. government’s request to immediately end the Paramount Decrees, a set of antitrust rules from the late 1940s and early 1950s that ended Hollywood’s monopoly on producing, distributing and exhibiting movies. U.S. District Judge Analisa Torres in Manhattan said the Department of Justice “offered a reasonable and persuasive explanation” for why terminating the consent decrees would “serve the public interest in free and unfettered competition.” Last November, the Justice Department moved to end the decrees, enacted after the Supreme Court in 1948 said Hollywood’s biggest studios had illegally monopolized the movie distribution and theater industries. New rules made it illegal for studios to unreasonably limit how many theaters could show movies in specific geographic areas.

Microsoft nears big bet on TikTok after risky LinkedIn deal shows promise.  Microsoft Corp.’s potential acquisition of short-video app TikTok carries myriad risks, thrusting it into the politically fraught social media business and Sino-U.S. conflict amid increased scrutiny of big-tech companies. But the deal could help Microsoft build on its $27 billion purchase of LinkedIn to become a bigger player in internet advertising now dominated by Facebook Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google. Microsoft said it aims to complete a deal by Sept. 15 for TikTok’s U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand operations. It is likely to have an edge in pricing negotiations as the U.S. is effectively forcing TikTok’s Chinese parent, ByteDance, to sell by threatening to ban the app as a security risk.

U.S. judge denies claims Uber won price-fixing suit because arbitrator was scared.  A U.S. judge denied a request by an Uber Technologies Inc. customer to overturn an arbitration win for the company in a price-fixing case over claims the arbitrator only ruled in Uber’s favor because he was scared. U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff in Manhattan said the claim was without merit, with the arbitrator, Les Weinstein, simply joking when he said he dismissed the lawsuit in February and said he acted out of fear. “After carefully reviewing the full record, the court finds that the arbitrator’s concluding remarks, rather than a sincere confession of fear, were simply an attempt at humor – one of many made by the arbitrator throughout the hearing,” Rakoff wrote. Spencer Meyer initiated the high-profile 2015 antitrust lawsuit alleging Uber engaged in an illegal conspiracy with its drivers to coordinate high “surge pricing” fares during periods of heavy demand by agreeing to charge prices set by an algorithm in the Uber ride-hailing app.

Edited by Gary J. Malone

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