Takeaways from the Intel Judgment on the Legality of Exclusivity Rebates in the EU

According to the longstanding case law of the Court of Justice of the European Union (the “Court”), rebates which are conditional upon a purchaser buying all or most of its requirements from a dominant supplier (so called “exclusivity” or “loyalty” rebates) have been presumed to be abusive on the basis that they are by their very nature anticompetitive. The Intel judgment of 6 September 2017 marks a shift by the Court from this per se approach: for the first time, the Court suggests the need for an assessment of their anticompetitive effects on a case by case basis. Continue Reading

FTC Temporarily Halts Proposed DraftKings-FanDuel Merger

On June 20, 2017, the United States District Court for the District of Columbia issued a temporary restraining order blocking the daily fantasy sports (DFS) companies DraftKings and FanDuel from consummating their proposed merger until the Court rules on a motion for a preliminary injunction filed by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The FTC alleges that the merger would create a monopoly in violation of Section 7 of the Clayton Act in the purported DFS market. The TRO does not otherwise prevent DraftKings and FanDuel from individually continuing to host DFS competitions. Continue Reading

Exclusive Agreement Between Hospital and Insurance Plan Does Not Violate Section 1

The Seventh Circuit refused to revive an exclusive dealing claim by one hospital against its competitor because of an exclusivity agreement with an insurance plan. Judge Richard Posner wrote the short opinion strongly reiterating in the health insurance context the established principle that a competitor trying to attack vertical agreements under Section 1 of the Sherman Act will have an uphill struggle under the Rule of Reason. The case is Methodist Health Services Corp. v. OSF Healthcare System d/b/a Saint Francis Medical Center, No. 16-3791 (7th Cir. June 19, 2017). Continue Reading

EU Telecoms Regulation Based on Unilateral Market Power Would be Contrary to EU Law

The existing EU regulatory framework for electronic communications obliges the EU Member States to provide in their national laws for certain powers and responsibilities of national regulatory authorities (“NRA”), in particular related to the analysis of markets likely to be regulated ex-ante. The fundamental principle since 2003 is that only companies with significant market power (“SMP”) shall be made subject to ex-ante obligations. This is a carefully balanced regulatory system, taking into account the important goal of stimulating market entry, and thus promoting effective competition, while at the same time establishing adequate investment incentives for the network operators. Continue Reading

Is Antitrust Law a Viable Substitute for Net Neutrality?

In April 2017, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai issued a Notice of Proposed Order, Restoring Internet Freedom, seeking to reverse the FCC’s previous adoption of “net neutrality” principles in its March 2015 Open Internet Order. Net neutrality is the principle that internet service providers (“ISPs”) should treat all data equally, regardless of source. Continue Reading

Algorithms, Artificial Intelligence and Joint Conduct

Over the past few years, sophisticated pricing algorithms and artificial intelligence have attracted the attention of antitrust and competition enforcers. These new technologies interpret and respond to market conditions with far more precision, agility, and consistency than their human counterparts. As a result, they may require practitioners to develop new ways of thinking about joint conduct such as price-fixing conspiracies. But to what extent do these innovations really alter traditional antitrust analysis under Section 1 of the Sherman Act? In a recent article published in Competition Policy International’s Antitrust Chronicle, we analyze existing legal doctrines and principles to see if they can offer antitrust and competition practitioners any guidance before we jump into this “brave new world.” Continue Reading

Eyes Across the Atlantic: Coordination and Management of Global Private Antitrust Litigation*

In years past, the focus of private international antitrust disputes was the United States. Over a century of experience, treble damages, class actions and the American rule for attorneys’ fees – plus robust enforcement by the Antitrust Division – have combined to make the United States the natural hub for private cases. That is still true today, but to a lesser extent because emerging private remedies and processes have made European jurisdictions much more viable, and U.S. courts are taking an increasingly close look at the limits of their jurisdiction. The result is litigation increasing across newly empowered jurisdictions: sophisticated and well informed coordination, case management and overarching strategy now are critical. Continue Reading

European Commission Blocks Merger of London Stock Exchange and Deutsche Börse

On 29 March 2017, the same day that United Kingdom has officially launched the Brexit process, the European Commission (Commission) blocked the proposed 29 billion Euro merger between Deutsche Börse AG (DBAG) and London Stock Exchange Group (LSEG) under the EU Merger Regulation; however, the Commission decision (M.7995) has not been published yet. DBAG and LSEG are the two largest stock exchange operators and own the stock exchanges of Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom, as well as several of the largest European clearing houses. In August 2016, the parties filed a merger notification to the Commission with discussions starting as early as February 2016. Since 2000, DBAG and LSEG have tried to merge three times hoping to create a heavyweight in the European stock market. DBAG had previously already been blocked to merge with NYSE Euronext in 2012.

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Antitrust Not Always Available in Competitor Disputes in the Healthcare Sector

The antitrust injury and antitrust standing defenses/doctrines are alive and well in healthcare.  A recent case, SCPH Legacy Corp. et al. v. Palmetto Health et al., shows that a competitor is not always the most legally appropriate plaintiff to bring an antitrust case, especially when the competitor’s alleged harm stems from increased competition.  This article explains the court’s reasoning and makes some predictions for similar arguments in the future.

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EC Launches Targeted Competition Enforcement in E-Commerce Sector

If we needed any reminder that the competitiveness of e-commerce was high on the European Commission’s enforcement agenda, we now have unequivocal proof of this. The Commission today launched three separate investigations under the competition rules against companies operating in the (i) consumer electronics, (ii) video games and (iii) hotel sectors. It is looking into whether these companies are breaching EU competition rules by unfairly restricting retail online prices and/or by excluding customers from certain online offers because of their nationality or location.

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