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The Antitrust Week In Review

Posted  May 2, 2022

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

Elon Musk’s early Twitter stock buy under FTC scrutiny -The Information.  Tesla Inc Chief Executive Elon Musk’s initial 9% stake purchase in Twitter Inc is being probed by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), The Information reported. The FTC is looking into whether Musk complied with an antitrust reporting requirement when he bought his stake in the social media company in early April, the report said, citing people with knowledge of the situation. The focus of the FTC inquiry is whether Musk bought the stake to influence Twitter’s management or if he looked to be a passive shareholder, according to the report. But there is little expectation that Musk’s potential purchase of Twitter will be rejected by antitrust enforcers.

Major tech antitrust bill gets backing of US Commerce Department.  The Commerce Department backed a key legislative proposal aimed at forcing large technology companies to compete against smaller businesses, agency secretary Gina Raimondo stated in an announcement that throws the full weight of the Biden administration behind the bill. Testifying before the Senate Commerce Committee, Raimondo applauded efforts by Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Rep. David Cicilline to champion the American Innovation and Choice Online Act (AICOA), a bill that would prohibit tech platforms from unfairly favoring their own proprietary services on their platforms over those of competing businesses. “[I] clearly agree that we need to improve competition, which increases innovation,” Raimondo said. “Last month, the [Justice Department] released a views letter on behalf of the administration in support of the [AICOA] and the department and I certainly support that and concur with the aim of the legislation and the views expressed in that views letter.”

MLB Aims to Strike Out Minor League Teams’ Antitrust Lawsuit.  Attorneys for Major League Baseball have described a federal lawsuit brought by four former affiliates as “patently frivolous,” a “futile quest” and a means for “boasting in the press” that their case could upend MLB’s limited antitrust exemption. The description came in a 37-page motion to dismiss. Four months ago, the Staten Island Yankees, the Norwich Sea Unicorns, the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes and the Tri-City ValleyCats sued in the Southern District of New York, arguing that MLB and its 30 teams violated Section 1 of the Sherman Antitrust Act. MLB’s reorganization of MiLB in 2020, the former affiliates charge, constituted an unlawful “boycott” of the more than 40 teams that lost MLB affiliations. The lawsuit depicts the termination of affiliations as “nothing less than a naked, horizontal agreement to cement MLB’s dominance over all professional baseball.”


Edited by Gary J. Malone