The US Department of Justice announced last month that it is requesting public comment on an updated draft policy statement on standards-essential patents (SEP). The December 6, 2021 draft statement was issued pursuant to the Executive Order on Promoting Competition in the American Economy on July 9, 2021. The draft statement seeks to modify a

One year after the first criminal indictment for wage-fixing, a Texas federal district court has ruled that an agreement to fix wages is a per se violation of Section 1 of the Sherman Act.

While over the last century the Supreme Court and lower federal courts have developed a robust body of case law interpreting

On October 6, 2021, an important judgment was handed down by the Court of Justice of the European Union (“CJEU”) on the liability of a subsidiary for the actions of its parent.  The Court confirmed (in Case C-882/19) that the well-established EU principle of single economic unit applies not only when the competition authorities take enforcement actions (public enforcement) but also in cases when a victim is seeking compensation for damages suffered as a result of the anti-competitive behaviour (private enforcement). Further, and more specifically, the CJEU confirmed that where the existence of an infringement of Article 101(1) TFEU by a parent company has been established, the victim may also bring an action for damages against a subsidiary of that parent company.  However, it is not an automatic right to seek damages from the subsidiary and there are some conditions.

Continue Reading The EU Courts Confirm a Subsidiary Can Be Held Liable for Damages Resulting from An Infringement of EU Competition Law Committed by its Parent Company

The Biden administration has made promoting competition a top priority, as reflected in President Biden’s July executive order on competition. (For a complete description of the executive order and developments in its implementation, please visit Steptoe’s Executive Order on Competition Tracker). This priority is reflected in appointments that President Biden has made to the

As we predicted in Steptoe’s client webinar last week on “Antitrust Enforcement in the Biden Administration – What We Know from The First 100 Days,” on April 22, 2021 the US Supreme Court put an end to the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) longstanding practice under § 13(b) of the FTC Act of seeking disgorgement or restitution orders in cases brought by the agency in federal courts.

Continue Reading Supreme Court: FTC May Not Seek Restitution Directly in Federal Court

At the beginning of April 2020, the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) handed down a preliminary ruling in Case C-228/18, Gazdasági Versenyhivatal v Budapest Bank Nyrt. and others and thus clarifying and reinstating certain aspects of the “by object” assessment. As a reminder, it is a well-established EU competition law principle that if a restriction is considered to be anticompetitive by object, the competition authorities are not required to examine its effects. For example, price fixing, input restrictions, bid-rigging, collective agreements to boycott, resale price maintenance are considered to have negative effects, in particular, on the price, quantity, or quality of goods or services, that they can be regarded as falling within Article 101(1) of the Treaty on Functioning of the EU (TFEU)  without the need to demonstrate any actual or likely anti-competitive effects on the market.

Continue Reading The Court of Justice of the EU Gives a Preliminary Ruling Clarifying and Reinstating Certain Aspects of the “by Object” Assessment

It is nothing short of a Christmas miracle. After years of quasi-radio silence, the Pay-TV case has finally made significant progress and has reached not one, but two significant milestones: on December 12, the General Court published a judgment largely confirming the European Commission’s (EC) approach of the case, i.e. that geoblocking clauses in broadcasting contracts amount to a restriction of competition by object (case T-873/16). A week later, on December 20, NBC Universal, Sony Pictures, Warner Bros and Sky offered commitments to settle the case. The EC is currently market testing the commitments.

These developments suggest that the EC is on track to win a major battle against geoblocking in the audiovisual sector. Below we take a closer look at these developments, as well as their potential implications on the future of the EU broadcasting industry.


Continue Reading A Holiday Reading: Pay-TV Case (Finally) Moves Forward

With Halloween around the corner, the French Competition Authority (FCA) is revisiting chainsaw massacre: on October 24, 2018, it adopted a decision imposing a 7 million euros fine on chainsaw manufacturer Stihl for imposing a de facto ban on online sales to its distributors (see press release here). Even more importantly, contrasting with previous

Introduction

On 25 July 2018, Advocate General (AG) Kokott issued a non-binding Opinion in case C-265/17 P, Commission v United Parcel Service, advising the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) to dismiss the Commission’s appeal against the judgement of the General Court (GC) that annulled the Commission’s decision to block the proposed acquisition of TNT by UPS.

UPS notified the proposed acquisition of TNT for approximately EUR 5 billion on 15 June 2012. More than six months later, on 30 January 2013 the Commission blocked the proposed merger based on concerns that it would lead to a significant impediment of effective competition (SIEC) on the market for international intra-EEA express deliveries for small packages in 15 Member States.

On 7 March 2017 the GC issued a favourable judgement for UPS (case T-194/13, United Parcel Service v Commission). The Court found that the Commission breached UPS’s rights of defence by relying on the latest version of an economic analysis which was not shared with the merging parties before the merger was blocked. The Commission appealed the GC’s judgement on 16 May 2017.

In the meantime, TNT was acquired by FedEx for EUR 4 billion, in January 2016, in a deal that received unconditional approval by the Commission. While UPS may have lost the chance to consolidate its express deliveries business with TNT, AG Kokott’s favourable Opinion will arguably boosts UPS’s chances to win an action for damages for EUR 1.7 billion against the Commission filed by UPS in February 2018 (case T-834/17, United Parcel Service v Commission).

AG Kokott’s Opinion, which is largely in line with the GC’s judgment, provides an important reminder – especially to the Commission – that the rights of defence should be upheld without excuses, including in merger control proceedings.


Continue Reading AG Kokott on UPS/TNT: A ‘Textbook Example’ of How to Breach the Rights of Defence in Merger Control Proceedings

In an unanimous decision, the Supreme Court has gutted the Second Circuit’s rule on deference to a foreign government’s interpretations of its law, holding that a federal court determining foreign law under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 44.1 should accord “respectful consideration” to a foreign government’s submission, but a court “is not bound to accord conclusive effect” to these statements.

The case is Animal Science Products, Inc. v. Hebei Welcome Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd., which began as a multi-district class action alleging price fixing claims vitamin C exports sold to U.S. companies. Initially, plaintiffs won at a jury trial after the district court refused to credit the Chinese government’s statements that it compelled the defendants to fix the price and limit the supply of vitamin C. Then, the Second Circuit reversed, holding that the district court was  “bound to defer” to the Chinese government’s interpretation of its laws when the latter “directly participates” in U.S. proceedings through a “sworn evidentiary proffer regarding the construction and the effect of its laws and regulations,” as long as it is reasonable under the circumstances presented.

As previewed in our earlier analysis, this case has important repercussions for any business involved in cross-border transactions. We explore these further below in light of the Supreme Court opinion.


Continue Reading Vitamin C Antitrust Litigation – How It Matters for Businesses