On April 3, 2023, the Department of Justice (the “DOJ”) filed a civil complaint against Activision Blizzard Inc. (“Activision”) alleging that the “competitive balance tax” constituted an unreasonable restraint of trade under Section 1 of the Sherman Act, and entered into a proposed consent decree (a binding settlement) that, if approved by a court, would bar the gaming company from imposing a “tax” against its esports leagues that exceed spending limits on player compensation.Continue Reading No More Games: Activision Settles with DOJ Over Esports Compensation
The Department of Justice (DOJ) lost its third jury trial in its mission to secure criminal convictions against companies and executives accused of labor-side antitrust violations on March 22, 2023, when a jury in Maine acquitted four home healthcare staffing executives of violating Section 1 of the Sherman Act. In United States v. Manahe, the DOJ charged Faysal Kalayaf Manahe, Yaser Aali, Ammar Alkinani, and Quasim Saesah with entering into an approximately two-month conspiracy between April and May 2020 not to hire each other’s caretakers and to fix caretaker wages. After the district court declined to dismiss the indictment, holding the DOJ had successfully alleged a per se conspiracy to fix wages and allocate employees, the case proceeded to a two-week trial. At trial, defendants—all immigrants from Iraq, many of whom served as translators for U.S. forces there—admitted that they discussed setting wage levels and refraining from hiring each other’s employees, and even drafted an agreement with signature lines that outlined the terms of defendants’ discussions. Defendants argued that they never reached an agreement in violation of Section 1 because the draft agreement was never signed. Defense counsel emphasized in opening statements that in defendants’ culture, “when dealing with business matters . . . the only way to confirm a commitment is to put it into a formal written contract.” Given the verdict, it appears the jury agreed.Continue Reading DOJ Loses Third Consecutive Antitrust Labor Trial
On Friday, February 3, the Department of Justice, Antitrust Division (the “DOJ”) announced its withdrawal of three policy statements on health care antitrust enforcement: (1) The Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission Antitrust Enforcement Policy Statements in the Healthcare Area (Sept. 15, 1993); (2) The Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission Statements of Antitrust Enforcement Policy in Healthcare (Aug. 1, 1996); and (3) The Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission Statement of Antirust Enforcement Policy Regarding Accountable Care Organizations Participating in the Medicare Shared Savings Program (Oct. 20, 2011) (together, the “Healthcare Statements”). It has been reported that the Federal Trade Commission (the “FTC”), which shares antitrust enforcement authority with the DOJ (together the “Agencies”), intends to withdraw the Healthcare Statements as well. Assuming the FTC follows the DOJ’s lead, the withdrawal of the Healthcare Statements may be the most significant antitrust enforcement development under the Biden Administration to date and is likely the most significant healthcare antitrust development in decades.Continue Reading Department of Justice Withdraws Key Healthcare Antitrust Policy Statements
Representing a sizable portion of the American economy, few industries in the United States have received more attention from the press, legislators, and antitrust agencies than the healthcare industry—particularly in recent years. Recent developments at the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) and the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) reaffirm that healthcare remains a top antitrust enforcement priorities in the United States.
Continue Reading U.S. Healthcare Industry Remains Antitrust Enforcement Priority
The Department of Justice recently filed a complaint to prevent Booz Allen Hamilton’s $440 million acquisition of “agile and innovative” competitor EverWatch, Inc. Among the notable aspects of the complaint is its definition of the relevant market as a single NSA contract and its assertion that the merger agreement itself constituted a violation of Section 1 of the Sherman Act.
Earlier this month, on the eve of the ABA Antitrust Spring Meeting, the Department of Justice Antitrust Division rolled out significant updates to its Leniency Program, most readily discernible through an augmented, plain-language set of 82 Frequently Asked Questions, as well as the Division’s updated Leniency Policies and Procedures and Model Corporate Conditional Leniency Letter.
Continue Reading Updates to DOJ Leniency Policy Further Complicate Decisions to Seek Antitrust Immunity; Some Suggestions from the Field
Many have been wondering when FTC and DOJ will resume granting early termination of the HSR waiting period in deals that present no anticompetitive concerns. Early termination does not appear to be coming back anytime soon.
Continue Reading FTC, Under Pressure from “Tidal Wave” of HSR Filings, To Begin Issuing Close-At-Your-Own-Risk Letters
The U.S. healthcare system has been undergoing significant changes since the passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010, which helped precipitate a wave of hospital and healthcare system consolidation, as providers sought out ways to achieve scale to reduce costs and improve quality.
Continue Reading The State of Competition in the U.S. Healthcare Industry
On June 22, 2020, Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim, head of the Antitrust Division at the Department of Justice, and Jay Clayton, Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (“MOU”) concerning “Cooperation with Respect to Promoting Competitive Conditions in the Securities Industry.”
Continue Reading SEC and DOJ Adopt Memorandum of Understanding to Formalize Interagency Cooperation in the Securities Industry
This post has been updated as of March 24, 2020.
On Monday, March 23, it was reported that the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) were preparing to announce a streamlined procedure through which companies seeking to collaborate on a response to the coronavirus pandemic may obtain an expedited review and approval of their contemplated venture. (https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-03-23/u-s-to-speed-antitrust-reviews-for-firms-teaming-up-on-virus). Specifically, the DOJ and FTC are expected to jointly commit to processing and completing reviews of coronavirus-targeted collaborations in one week or less. The agencies may roll out the details as early as Monday.
Continue Reading U.S. Antitrust Agencies to Streamline Review for COVID-19 Collaborations (UPDATED)