Archives: Antitrust & Competition

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Interpreting the DOJ’s recent enforcement campaign against “no-poach” cases

Since 2010, with its cases filed against a number of leading technology companies, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has shined a spotlight on the potential antitrust risks associated with employers’ use of “no-poach” agreements in which companies agree not to hire or solicit each other’s employees. The DOJ and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued … Continue Reading

New EU rules promote transparency and fairness in online trading practices

On February 14, 2019, the European Commission, European Parliament, and Council of the European Union reached agreement on new rules designed to ensure a fair, transparent and predictable business environment to the benefit of both end consumers and entrepreneurs using third party online platforms for their business. The new rules will be implemented by way … Continue Reading

FTC announces revised HSR thresholds for 2019

On February 15, 2019, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced the annual threshold adjustments for premerger filings under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976, as amended (15 U.S.C. § 18a) (HSR). The FTC revises the thresholds annually based on the change in gross national product.  The revised HSR thresholds will apply to all transactions … Continue Reading

Prescription drug purchasing initiative in California raises legal questions

Last week, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed an Executive Order creating a program to lower prescription drug costs throughout the state. This initiative could significantly impact pharmaceutical manufacturers, managed care companies, pharmacies and other industry participants, as well as prescription drug consumers. Reed Smith’s health care and antitrust teams summarize Newsom’s Executive Order and address consequent … Continue Reading

FCA fines household appliance manufacturers €189 million for cartel activities

On December 5, 2018, the French Competition Authority (FCA) fined six large household appliance manufacturers a total of €189 million for agreeing on price increases charged to end-consumers and commercial terms applicable to their kitchen installers. This is the tenth highest fine imposed for cartel activities by the FCA since 2000. Members of our EU, Competition … Continue Reading

FTC hearings address AI regulatory challenges

On November 13–14, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) held hearings on “Competition and Consumer Protection in the 21st Century.” The panelists, an assembly of industry leaders, academics and enforcers, discussed consumer protection and antitrust issues that arise from harvesting data through AI, the role of industry in mitigating potential harms and whether government agencies can … Continue Reading

FTC eyes contact lens trademark settlement agreements

Over a spirited dissent, and in a 3–1 decision issued on November 14, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Commissioners held that 1-800 Contacts violated Section 5 of the FTC Action by entering into settlement agreements with competitors that (1) harmed consumers in the online sale of contact lenses and (2) harmed search engines by artificially … Continue Reading

“Not So Fast!” District Court orders divestiture of assets in private Clayton Act case six years after DOJ clears deal

Increasingly, the antitrust agencies have been challenging unreported transactions post-closing under the Clayton Act, seeking an unwinding of the transactions or at least divestitures of some of the assets purchased. Until recently, however, the threat that a private plaintiff would obtain a court order requiring an unwinding or divestiture once the deal has closed has … Continue Reading

Agreements and algorithms can add up to antitrust liability

Last week in a hearing before the Senate Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy, and Consumer Rights, Assistant Attorney General (AAG) Makan Delrahim announced that the Department of Justice (DOJ) is pursuing criminal charges against competitors who allegedly engaged in a price-fixing scheme facilitated by the use of search algorithms. While he did not reveal further … Continue Reading

Platform bans under competition law – a German perspective

Digital transformations in commerce steadily increase the variety and availability of products and give consumers access to retail offers beyond geographic boundaries on a 24/7 basis. While the increase of e-commerce might enhance inter- and intra-brand competition, it heavily impacts the traditional retail landscape. Brand manufacturers suffer from less price stability and retailers find it … Continue Reading

ALJ Upholds FTC Judgement of Antitrust Violations for Ad Tech Agreements Against 1-800 Contacts

With the holiday marketing season upon us, marketers launch the month-long, relentless scramble for consumer visibility and coveted advertising space on high-traffic inventory. One matter likely not on marketers’ radars? Antitrust violations. A recent ruling on a case brought by the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) against 1-800 Contacts scrutinizes the brand’s ad tech playbook through … Continue Reading

UK Investment Consultants and Fiduciary Management Services Under Investigation

The UK competition regulator, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), will be conducting in-depth investigations of investment consultancy and fiduciary management services after the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) initiated an investigation.  The CMA has a wide range of powers enabling them to investigate and impose remedies.  Industry participants should expect requests from the CMA to … Continue Reading

On the brink of protectionism? Germany tightens rules on foreign investment controls to block unwanted takeovers

On 12 July 2017, the German government adopted new provisions amending the German Foreign Trade and Payments Ordinance (Außenwirtschaftsverordnung – “AWV”). By implementing the new rules, Germany is trying to stop losing know-how to foreign countries by blocking unwanted takeovers by non-European companies. The amendments are regarded as a response to the takeover of German … Continue Reading

The European Commission Publishes Final Report on E-commerce Inquiry – What it Means for Brand Owners

On 10 May 2017, the European Commission published its final report on its two-year e-commerce sector inquiry (the Final Report).  Many of the conclusions in the Final Report closely follow the Commission’s preliminary report, which were analysed and summarised in our last client alert on the e-commerce inquiry, and were also featured in our webinar … Continue Reading

Online sales restrictions continue to be top enforcement priority in EU

The European Commission recently published its long-awaited final report on its E-commerce Sector Inquiry launched two years ago. Therein, the Commission identifies that pricing limitations, dual pricing (i.e., charging different prices according to the channel through which a product is sold) and platform bans are among the most widespread vertical competition restraints in e-commerce implemented … Continue Reading

Facebook Is Fined US$122 Million by European Commission for Misleading Information in WhatsApp Merger Review

Facebook is faced with a fine of EUR110 million (US$122 million) for providing misrepresentative or incorrect information to the European Commission when it filed the acquisition of WhatsApp for merger approval in 2014. In the notification, Facebook stated it would not be able to reliably link Facebook users’ accounts and WhatsApp users’ accounts. However, two … Continue Reading

DOJ Casts Shade on Proposed Chicago Sun-Times Newspaper Sale

The Department of Justice Antitrust Division (DOJ) announced May 15 that it is investigating the proposed acquisition of the Chicago Sun-Times newspaper by the owner of rival publication the Chicago Tribune. As a condition of proceeding with the sale, the DOJ has required that the Chicago Sun-Times advertise for an alternative buyer. The investigation demonstrates … Continue Reading

Germany updates competition rules to deal with digital markets

The “Digital Strategy 2025”, adopted by the German Federal Government on March 1, 2016, aims to ensure that Germany remains a growing, modern and significant financial marketplace in an increasingly digitalized environment. Measures proposed under the Digital Strategy 2025 include the further development of Germany’s regulatory landscape, in particular in the areas of competition and … Continue Reading

Independent Health Care Providers Beware – FTC Actions Against Group Contracting Efforts Continue

The Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) recently charged a Puerto Rico ophthalmologist cooperative with organizing a group boycott of a health plan in violation of section 5 of the FTC Act.  This action demonstrates the need for providers to be heedful of the antitrust laws when engaging in group contracting efforts.  While agreements among independent providers … Continue Reading

Private Equity Firm Held Responsible for Portfolio Company’s Antitrust Violations

In January of 2017 a private equity firm, Bencis, was found liable for a portfolio company’s involvement as one of 14 cartelists producing flour in the Netherlands, Belgium, and Germany. The Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) ruled that while company was a member of Bencis’s portfolio, Bencis was accountable for their antitrust violations.  This … Continue Reading

The FTC and DOJ Update the Antitrust Guidelines for the Licensing of Intellectual Property

The Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice have made their first amendments to the Antitrust Guidelines for the Licensing of Intellectual Property since their origin in 1995.  The guidelines were updated in light of the fundamental changes in statutory and case law, agency enforcement, and policy work. The updates support innovation while incorporating the … Continue Reading

Duke Energy Forced to Pay Large Fine in HSR Gun Jumping Settlement

Duke Energy Corporation (Duke) agreed to pay $600,000 to settle a DOJ claim that it violated the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976 (HSR Act) by failing to comply with the HSR waiting period requirement.  The complaint from the DOJ originated from Duke’s acquisition of the Osprey natural gas power plant from Calpine Corporation, which … Continue Reading

Antitrust Update: 2017 HSR Thresholds

On January 19, 2017, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced the revised thresholds for determining whether companies are required to notify federal antitrust authorities about a transaction under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976, as amended (HSR Act).  The new minimum filing threshold will be $80.8 million. All of the revised thresholds are higher … Continue Reading
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