The Antitrust Week In Review
Here are some of the developments in antitrust news this past week that we found interesting and are following.
Metaverse has set off no alarms or need for controls yet, EU antitrust chief says. The metaverse, shared virtual worlds accessible through the internet, has not triggered any concerns so far or the need for legislation to rein it in, EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager said. An initiative that she will present on the metaverse aims to help competition regulators understand the industry’s dynamics, Vestager said. Facebook owner Meta Platforms, Microsoft and Apple are working on metaverse products or services, prompting fears that the companies may get an unfair advantage over smaller competitors such as Roblox.
JetBlue says it will end alliance with American to save Spirit merger deal. JetBlue Airways, seeking to protect a planned $3.8 billion purchase of Spirit Airlines, said it would follow a U.S. judge’s May order that it end an alliance with American Airlines. The New York-based carrier said while it “strongly” disagrees, it would not appeal the court’s ruling. JetBlue said it had informed American of its decision to terminate the three-year-old alliance, which allowed the two carriers to coordinate flights and pool revenue. American said it still planned to appeal the ruling. American is the largest U.S. airline by fleet size and JetBlue is the sixth largest.
Meta Loses Appeal on How It Harvests Data in Germany. Meta’s ability to harvest data about users in order to sell personalized ads was thrown into question after the European Union’s highest court upheld a decision by German antitrust regulators that the company had abused its dominance in social media. The ruling in the closely watched case by the European Court of Justice cleared the way for Germany’s top antitrust enforcer, the Bundeskartellamt, to block Meta from combining data collected about users across its different platforms, including Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, as well as from outside websites and apps, unless it gets explicit permission from users.
US FTC drops Altria complaint after Marlboro-maker exits stake in Juul Labs. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission said it dismissed a complaint against Marlboro cigarette maker Altria Group and e-cigarette maker Juul Labs that was brought after Altria bought a 35% stake in Juul. The agency also said it would vacate an FTC administrative law judge’s decision in favor of the companies in February 2022. Since it has been vacated, it cannot be cited as precedent, the agency said in the statement announcing it was dropping the litigation.
Edited by Gary J. Malone