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The Antitrust Week In Review

Posted  March 29, 2024

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


American Express sued in merchants’ class-action over ‘swipe’ fees.  American Express has been hit with a proposed class action lawsuit in Rhode Island federal court accusing it of overcharging thousands of U.S. merchants for credit and debit card fees on consumer transactions. Ten retail plaintiffs including a delicatessen, fine clothier, florist and furniture store filed the lawsuit seeking a court order to block American Express policies that they said violated U.S. antitrust law. American Express restricts competition through its use of “non-discrimination provisions” to bar merchants from encouraging customers to use payment cards with lower transaction fees, the lawsuit said.


US appeals court revives Regeneron’s antitrust lawsuit against Novartis.  A U.S. appeals court revived an antitrust lawsuit by Regeneron Pharmaceuticals against Novartis related to prescription treatments to address a condition that can lead to eye disorders including permanent blindness. The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan said a lower court judge erred in dismissing the case, in part for having applied an improper legal standard to Regeneron’s claims. The lawsuit is related to Regeneron’s drug Eylea and Novartis’ rival drug Lucentis. Tarrytown, New York-based Regeneron sued Basel, Switzerland-based Novartis in 2020, claiming that Novartis schemed with co-defendant Vetter Pharma to delay Regeneron’s release of a version of its eye medication.


US judge dismisses DirecTV lawsuit against Nexstar, other station owners.  A judge in Manhattan has dismissed a lawsuit by satellite television provider DirecTV accusing Nexstar Media and two other television station owners of scheming to drive up retransmission fees for distributing content to viewers. U.S. District Judge Kevin Castel in Manhattan federal court ruled that DirecTV’s lawsuit was “speculative” and that the company could not tie any losses it suffered to the alleged antitrust conspiracy. Companies like DirecTV pay retransmission fees to station owners such as Nextstar, the country’s largest owner or operator of television stations, in order to distribute their programming.


NCAA sued over prize-money restrictions on student athletes.  A top-ranked U.S. tennis player has sued the National Collegiate Athletic Association in North Carolina federal court, accusing it of restricting prize money that tennis players, gymnasts and other athletes can earn for competitive events away from their schools. The proposed class action lawsuit filed by Reese Brantmeier, a star player attending the University of North Carolina, seeks damages and a court order blocking some curbs the collegiate athletic governing body places on compensation for athletic performance. The complaint said the NCAA is violating U.S. antitrust law by restraining how much athletes can be paid at tournaments and other non-NCAA competitions, such as events hosted by the U.S. Tennis Association.


Edited by Gary J. Malone