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The Antitrust Week In Review

Posted  February 1, 2022

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

U.S. Justice antitrust chief says he’ll seek to stop deals not settle.  The new head of the Justice Department Antitrust Division, Jonathan Kanter, said the government should seek to stop proposed mergers which pose anticompetitive concerns rather than striking deals for asset sales or other concessions that would allow the transaction to close. “In my view, when the division concludes that a merger is likely to lessen competition or tend to create a monopoly, in most situations, we should seek a simple injunction to block the transaction,” said Kanter, who was confirmed in November and is one of three progressives named to top U.S. antitrust posts. Kanter took the reins of the division at a time of rising inflation, including in key industries like meat production, and growing concern that there are a range of sectors of the economy where a handful of companies have become too powerful.

E.U. court throws out $1.2 billion antitrust fine against Intel.  In a defeat for the European Union’s tech antitrust efforts, a top court threw out a $1.2 billion fine issued against Intel more than a decade ago over practices to undercut a rival in the semiconductor industry. The court said the European Commission, the 27-nation bloc’s main antitrust regulator, made key mistakes about the competitive impact of Intel’s behavior when determining the chip maker had violated antitrust laws in 2009. Intel had been charged with paying illegal rebates to companies that used its semiconductors over rival Advanced Micro Devices. The decision by the E.U. General Court in Luxembourg can be appealed, though the commission said it needed time to review the judgment.

DaVita loses bid to dismiss DOJ’s criminal antitrust charges.  A Colorado federal judge on Friday declined to dismiss a criminal antitrust indictment alleging dialysis provider DaVita Inc and its former CEO Kent Thiry conspired with competitors not to hire each other’s senior employees, upholding a closely watched prosecution in the labor and employment arena. Senior U.S. District Judge R. Brooke Jackson in Denver spurned arguments from the defendants that the agreements DaVita, one of the largest dialysis providers in the U.S., made with other companies not to solicit employees did not violate antitrust law. “Defendants are right that there are no cases perfectly analogous to this case,” Jackson wrote. “But that is the nature of Section 1 of the Sherman Act: as violators use new methods to suppress competition by allocating the market or fixing prices these new methods will have to be prosecuted for a first time.”

Dozens of U.S. states say Apple stifles competition; back ‘Fortnite’ maker.  Apple Inc is stifling competition through its mobile app store, attorneys general for 34 U.S. states and the District of Columbia said on Thursday, as they appealed against a ruling that let the iPhone maker continue some restrictive practices. Thursday’s remarks, led by the state of Utah and joined by Colorado, Indiana, Texas and others, came in a lawsuit in an appeals court against app store fees and payment tools between “Fortnite” video game maker Epic Games and Apple. “Apple’s conduct has harmed and is harming mobile app-developers and millions of citizens,” the states said. “Meanwhile, Apple continues to monopolize app distribution and in-app payment solutions for iPhones, stifle competition, and amass supracompetitive profits within the almost trillion-dollar-a-year smartphone industry.”

Edited by Gary J. Malone

Tagged in: Antitrust Enforcement, Antitrust Litigation,