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The Antitrust Week in Review

Posted  March 28, 2023

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

U.S. rejects JetBlue, Spirit exemption request, citing lawsuit.  The U.S. Transportation Department denied an exemption request by JetBlue and Spirit to operate under common ownership, citing the Justice Department’s antitrust lawsuit filed this month seeking to block the deal. JetBlue’s planned $3.8 billion acquisition of ultra-low cost carrier Spirit was announced last July. They then filed an exemption application asking the Transportation Department to permit them to operate under common ownership prior to a requested transfer application that seeks approval to combine and operate international routes under one certificate.

UK drops console concern over Microsoft-Activision deal.  Britain’s competition regulator said Microsoft’s 69-billion purchase of “Call of Duty” maker Activision Blizzard would not harm competition in gaming consoles, removing a major obstacle to the deal. In findings based on new evidence, the Competition and Markets Authority said that it would not make financial sense for Microsoft to make “Call of Duty” exclusive to its Xbox console, and it would instead still have the incentive to continue to make the game available on PlayStation. The takeover, the biggest ever in gaming, remains subject to the scrutiny of regulators in the United States and Europe.

Saks, luxury designers defeat ‘no poach’ antitrust lawsuit.  A U.S. judge has dismissed a prospective class action accusing Saks Fifth Avenue and several high-end designers of conspiring to stifle employee mobility and to keep luxury-worker pay artificially low in violation of U.S. antitrust law. Chief U.S. District Judge Margo Brodie in Brooklyn, New York, dismissed the case after finding the claims from three luxury retail employees at retailer Saks fell outside a four-year window for filing the action. The judge also found that a fourth employee had not provided enough of a factual basis to show harm to industry competition.