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The Antitrust Week In Review

Posted  October 5, 2020

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

Big Companies Are Starting to Swallow the World.  The next six months could witness one of the biggest consolidations of corporate power in the United States in almost a century, yet a variety of legal and economic factors may leave the federal government unable to stop it.  The essence of the problem is that during the extended economic crisis created by the coronavirus pandemic, many large companies — and especially their stock market values — have been growing rapidly while their small business competitors have faced something of an apocalypse.  More than 400,000 small businesses have already closed and millions more are at risk.

U.S. DoJ’s antitrust head sets sights on Wall Street data pricing – Bloomberg News.  The head of the U.S. Justice Department’s antitrust division, Makan Delrahim, is paying close attention to the data that securities exchanges sell to banks and investment companies, Bloomberg News reported on Tuesday.  Market participants have long complained that the prices they pay to acquire the data are too steep, the report said.  One area of potential concern is whether the exchanges are using market power to hurt competition, for example, by forcing investors to buy other products or services in addition to the data feeds, Delrahim told the news outlet in an interview.  He is also considering revamping the United States’ view on bank mergers, according to the report.

Apple and Epic Games Spar Over Returning Fortnite to the App Store.  Apple and Epic Games, the maker of Fortnite, sparred in federal court over whether to reinstate the popular game in Apple’s App Store, raising antitrust arguments that may reshape a key part of the internet economy and the way people use smartphones.  In a three-hour videoconference hearing in the Northern District of California, Epic laid out its allegations that Apple had abused its power.  Their fight began last month when Epic tried collecting its own payments for Fortnite without going through the App Store, breaking Apple’s rules.  Apple then booted Fortnite from the App Store; Epic responded by suing Apple, accusing it of violating antitrust laws.

House Democrats discuss tougher antitrust law, some Republicans agree.  The U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee’s antitrust panel discussed ways to tighten antitrust laws on Thursday, with two Republicans on the Democrat-dominated panel indicating potential support for some changes.  The antitrust subcommittee, chaired by Representative David Cicilline, is expected to release a much-anticipated report into the four big tech companies — Inc., Facebook Inc., Apple and Alphabet’s Google — as soon as Monday.

Edited by Gary J. Malone

Tagged in: Antitrust Enforcement, Antitrust Litigation,