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The Antitrust Week In Review

Posted  May 3, 2023

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


US appeals court rejects bid by states to revive antitrust lawsuit against Facebook.  A U.S. appeals court refused to revive a lawsuit filed by states against Meta’s Facebook that alleged the company had broken antitrust law. Dozens of states led by New York asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia last year to reinstate the lawsuit, which U.S. District Judge James Boasberg of the District of Columbia rejected, saying they had waited too long to file. Both the Federal Trade Commission and the states had asked the court in 2020 to order Facebook to sell Instagram, which it bought for $1 billion in 2012, and WhatsApp, which it bought for $19 billion in 2014. The FTC case is going forward.


Mastercard reports U.S. antitrust probe of debit card program.  Mastercard Inc said the U.S. Justice Department was conducting an antitrust investigation of its U.S. debit program and competition with other payment networks. The company in a filing said it had received a civil investigative demand, the civil equivalent of a subpoena, from the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division. The filing did not specify the government’s concern beyond saying it had to do with its U.S. debit program and competition with rivals.


Apple Largely Prevails in Appeal of Epic Games’ App Store Suit.  A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled 2 to 1 that Apple’s tight control of its App Store did not violate federal antitrust law, siding with a lower court’s 2021 ruling that largely gave the tech giant a victory in a lawsuit brought by Epic Games. Some app developers have said the multibillion-dollar business’s strict policies stifle competition and eat into their profits. While siding with Apple on a majority of Epic’s claims, the judges also agreed with the lower court that Apple was violating California’s Unfair Competition Law by prohibiting app developers from directing their customers to payment methods outside the App Store, which charges a 30 percent fee.


Aerospace managers acquitted in labor-related antitrust prosecution.  A Connecticut federal judge acquitted six aerospace engineering managers charged with conspiring to restrict employee hiring and recruitment, in a ruling that marked another loss for the U.S. Justice Department in its series of labor-related antitrust prosecutions. U.S. District Judge Victor Bolden in Bridgeport federal court ruled at the end of a weeks-long trial before any jury verdict. The ruling was the fourth trial loss in about a year for prosecutors in a labor-focused criminal antitrust case.


Edited by Gary J. Malone