The Antitrust Week in Review
Here are some of the developments in antitrust news this past week that we found interesting and are following.
NCAA balks at athletes’ $1.3 billion antitrust lawsuit, calling it speculative. The National Collegiate Athletic Association has asked a U.S. judge to block current and former student-athletes from suing as a class action in seeking more than $1.3 billion over the use of their names and images in televised broadcasts and other forums. The NCAA, the governing organization for U.S. intercollegiate athletics, said in a filing in California federal court that the plaintiffs failed to meet certain legal thresholds to sustain a class action. The NCAA also argued the plaintiffs’ division of damages unlawfully favored male athletes over female ones.
Microsoft offers to charge for Teams to address EU antitrust concerns. Microsoft has offered to charge different prices for its Office product with and without its Teams app to stave off a possible EU antitrust investigation and fine, two people familiar with the matter said. Microsoft has been seeking to address the EU competition enforcer’s concerns since last year after Salesforce-owned workspace messaging app Slack complained to the European Commission, other people familiar with the matter told Reuters in December. Slack in 2020 alleged that Microsoft has unfairly integrated its workplace chat and video app Teams into its Office product. The U.S. tech giant introduced Teams in 2017 targeting the fast-growing and lucrative workplace collaboration market.
Ford wins reversal of $105 million trade-secrets verdict. A federal judge in Detroit threw out a jury verdict ordering Ford Motor Co (F.N) to pay Versata Software Inc $104.6 million for breaching a 2004 licensing contract and misappropriating trade secrets. U.S. District Judge Matthew Leitman said that while Versata Software, which licensed software to Ford from 1998 to 2015, offered sufficient evidence of a contract breach, it did not offer evidence to let jurors calculate damages accurately. He also said jurors had no basis to determine how long Ford would have needed to develop three trade secrets it allegedly stole, and that this also required voiding the damages award.
UK antitrust regulator refused permission to appeal Apple probe ruling. Britain’s antitrust regulator was refused permission to appeal against a ruling that it had no power to open an investigation into Apple Inc’s mobile browser and cloud gaming services. Apple won an appeal in March against the decision by the Competition and Markets Authority (“CMA”) to open a full investigation. The Competition Appeal Tribunal quashed the decision to open the investigation and refused the CMA’s application for permission to appeal against that ruling.
Edited by Gary J. Malone