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The Antitrust Week In Review

Posted  September 8, 2020

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

FIFA Is Warned That Banning Top Games in U.S. May Breach Antitrust Laws.  For more than five years, the United States Department of Justice has pursued a corruption case against the highest levels of international soccer, charging dozens of the sport’s senior officials with crimes like money laundering and fraud. Now its antitrust division has joined the fight. The antitrust division is focused on a yearslong dispute over where matches can take place. FIFA, soccer’s global governing body, is considering strengthening rules that keep teams from playing competitive regular-season games outside their home countries.

Facebook partners with two more companies ahead of FTC hearing on data portability.  Facebook Inc. said on Thursday its users can transfer photos and videos stored on its servers to two new tech platforms – its latest move to address antitrust concerns by giving users an option to easily leave the company’s services. The social media company’s new partners are cloud storage firms Dropbox and Koofr – a Europen Union-based startup. Facebook announced a similar partnership with Alphabet-owned Google Photos in April. The feature that allows such transfers is called data portability. It gives users more control over their data and allows the social media company to respond to U.S. regulators and lawmakers who are investigating its competitive practices and allegations it has stifled competition.

Apple-Epic row being closely watched by German antitrust chief.  Germany’s antitrust watchdog is following closely a legal row over Apple’s App Store payment terms, saying on Wednesday it could in principle open a national inquiry. Apple dropped Epic Games after a dispute in which the ‘Fortnite’ creator alleged that the iPhone maker’s in-app payment terms constitute a monopoly. “This has most certainly attracted our interest,” said Andreas Mundt, head of the Federal Cartel Office. “We are at the beginning, but we are looking at this very closely.”

EU resumes Air Canada/Transat merger review, sets December 11 deadline.  EU antitrust regulators have resumed their investigation into Air Canada’s proposed acquisition of rival Canadian carrier Air Transat and set a deadline of December 11 for a decision. The European Commission, which oversees competition policy in the 27-member European Union, suspended its investigation in June as it waited for the companies to provide certain data. The Commission opened an in-depth study of the planned C$720 million ($552.8 million) acquisition in May, saying it had concerns that it would result in higher prices and less choice for flights between Europe and Canada.

Edited by Gary J. Malone

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