“Bridge Over Troubled Water” – Crossing the Enforcement Gulf for Digital Platforms

This 1970 hit by Simon & Garfunkel is a beautiful song about giving a helping hand to someone caught in a situation of distress.  And there is also broad consensus around the world that the digital platform markets are caught in troubled waters. A few mighty rivers run so high and so fast that they are drowning smaller creeks around them and carrying away anyone riding them. Different attempts to contain these massive flows have been made, but they were not strong enough. This has led to a widely visible enforcement gap, because the tools needed to build solid bridges for smaller rivals and consumers were either missing or not properly applied so far. Continue Reading

Congress Misses Opportunity to Bolster Flagging Cartel Enforcement through Whistleblowers

Congress recently took two steps towards incentivizing private participation in federal cartel enforcement:  the permanent adoption of ACPERA, and enactment of the Criminal Antitrust Anti-Retaliation Act.  While now companies may have permanent incentives to self-report cartel activity, and whistleblowing employees may be better protected from employer retaliation, no surge in individual cartel reporting should be expected absent direct whistleblower financial incentives, such as found in other federal enforcement regimes. Continue Reading

Digital Platforms Face New EU Regulations

With digital platforms present in every aspect of our lives, it was only a matter of time before regulators started to think about how to manage the new issues and competition concerns they raise. Leading platforms have grown in size and market power raising concerns for regulators about dominance and market foreclosure. Continue Reading

Lower Filing Thresholds for HSR Act Premerger Notifications and Interlocking Directorates Announced

  1. Lower Thresholds For HSR Filings

On February 1st, 2021, the Federal Trade Commission announced revised, lower thresholds for premerger filings under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976. The filing thresholds are revised annually, based on the change in Gross National Product (GNP) and had not been lowered since 2010. Continue Reading

Amended California Price Gouging Law Closes Potential Loopholes

California Penal Code § 396 prohibits price gouging in California during a state of emergency. California enacted a few amendments to Section 396 that are effective now.  As explained in more detail below, among other things, the amendments close potential loopholes relating to e-commerce, sales of new products, and the relevant benchmark date for pre-emergency prices. Continue Reading

Digital Platforms — New EU Regulations and Competition Law Tools

The ever increasing market power and often criticised conduct of data driven platforms is not new, but lately the efforts to tackle these appear to have taken a decisive turn. We are now on the verge of new rules and tools to tackle the competition issues arising with the tech giants.

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Is There an HSR Sea Change on the Horizon? Advance Notice Seeks Information on Possible Amendments to Numerous Provisions of the HSR Rules

At the same time as it issued its notice of proposed rulemaking expanding the definition of “person,” the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) issued an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (“ANPRM”) to request information related to seven topics “to help determine the path” for future amendments to the HSR Rules.  In explaining the reasons for the ANPRM, the FTC expressed its strong interest in making sure the Rules are “as current and relevant as possible,”  and observed that certain of the Rules, some of which have not been changed since they were first promulgated in 1978, may need updating.  The ANPRM contains more than forty pages of questions soliciting information to help determine the need for “potential future amendments to numerous provisions” of the Rules. Continue Reading

Tell Me More – Antitrust Agencies to Demand More Information from Investment Funds

The Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) recently issued a notice of proposed rulemaking to amend the premerger notification rules (the “Rules”) that implement the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976 (the “HSR Act”) to change the definition of “person” and create a new exemption.  The new definition of person is specifically designed to obtain more information from certain investment entities, such as investment funds and master limited partnerships, by including “associates” in the definition. Continue Reading

DOJ Antitrust Division Releases New Merger Remedies Manual

On September 3, 2020, the DOJ’s Antitrust Division released its Merger Remedies Manual.  The manual provides important guidance on what DOJ considers to be adequate solutions to addressing competitive issues in M&A deals challenged by DOJ.  Several key points are identified below. Continue Reading

The European Commission Adopts White Paper on Foreign Subsidies – A Trend Towards Protectionism on a Global Level?

As State aid measures granted by EU Member States continue to surge in the aftermath of the COVID-19 outbreak and ongoing pandemic, the European Commission (“Commission”) has turned to subsidies coming from non-EU countries.

On 17 June, the Commission announced that it had adopted a consultative White Paper which sets out proposed new legal tools to deal with the distortive effects caused by foreign subsidies in the European Single Market. With this, it opened a public consultation seeking input from stakeholders on the proposals set out in the White Paper. The public consultation will be open until 23 September 2020.

With the benefit of some distance since the issuance of this White Paper, we assess the proposal and the responses to it. Continue Reading

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