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The Antitrust Week In Review

Posted  November 18, 2021

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

U.S. antitrust agencies see merger surge.  The U.S. Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission have been notified of more than 4,000 proposed transactions between March 2020 and September 2021, a sharp increase. The agencies, which share antitrust enforcement duties, created an online portal to accept notifications of proposed transactions in March 2020, when the government and companies started closing offices to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. Between then and Sept. 10, 2021, roughly 18 months, the portal took in filings related to more than 4,000 transaction, compared to 1,637 for the 2020 fiscal year.  The increase in mergers is sure to give the agencies another talking point as they seek to increase their budgets for antitrust enforcement.

U.S. judge denies Apple’s request for pause of ‘Fortnite’ antitrust orders.  A U.S. judge denied Apple Inc’s efforts to pause an injunction handed down after an antitrust case brought by “Fortnite” creator Epic Games. The iPhone maker immediately said it would appeal the denial, aiming to stave off changes to its lucrative in-app payment system. Epic went to trial earlier this year over Apple’s practice of forcing developers to use its in-app payment system and its App Store for app distribution. While the court’s ruling was mostly favorable to Apple, the court found Apple was unlawfully keeping consumers in the dark about alternative payment methods outside of iOS and ordered Apple to lift its ban on in-app links, buttons and messages to users about other ways to pay. Apple has appealed, asking the court to pause its injunction while the appeals process plays out, which could take several years.

U.S. FTC okays changes to Bristol Meyers Squibb divestiture agreement.  The U.S. Federal Trade Commission said on Friday it approved certain modifications to Bristol Meyers Squibb’s previously approved divestiture agreement and incorporated the modifications into its consent order for the drugmaker’s 2019 acquisition of Celgene Corp. The modifications relate to certain confidential provisions of agreements that Bristol Meyers Squibb made to divest the psoriasis treatment drug, Otezla to rival Amgen. They will ensure that Amgen’s Otezla will stay competitive in the market, the FTC said in a statement. As a condition of Bristol Meyers Squibb’s acquisition of Celgene, the FTC required the drugmaker to divest the drug to Amgen , the FTC said.

Edited by Gary J. Malone

Tagged in: Antitrust Enforcement, Antitrust Litigation,