The Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) recently issued a business review letter stating that it would not challenge the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc.’s (IEEE) proposed revisions to its patent policy. These patent policy revisions seek to address the “wide divergence” in expectations between holders of patents essential to an IEEE standard and the market participants seeking to implement such standards.
The DOJ’s response to the revisions continues the current trend in U.S. law limiting the rights of patent holders that make reasonable and non-discriminatory (RAND) rate commitments as part of the standard-setting process. The DOJ emphasized th [...]
Antitrust law debates usually emphasize price effects while other elements of competition get less attention. Three recent writings by leading antitrust thinkers, however, explore the interaction between antitrust law and competition, on the one hand, and innovation, quality and long-term labor markets, respectively, on the other. As summarized below, each piece discusses an attribute of competition other than price that might be used to provide a more accurate description of the dynamic competitive effects in any market.
Professors Spencer Weber Waller and Matthew Sag of Loyola University Chicago School of Law discuss competition law and Promoting Innovation in the Iowa Law Review. (A [...]
Commissioner Josh Wright of the U.S. Federal Trade Commission certainly is the gift that keeps on giving to antitrust commentators. Rarely do many weeks go by without a Wright speech or dissenting opinion that cogently takes on an interesting competition issue, often one captured in an action by his fellow commissioners. Last month’s example was a speech to the New York City Bar Association provocatively titled, “Does the FTC Have a New IP Agenda?” Wright believes the answer to his question is “yes,” and that the shift is not helpful. Much of the support for Wright’s assertion of a change comes from two FTC matters that predate his tenure and alarmed the business communit [...]
In our annual forecast of the year ahead for Canadian competition and foreign investment review law, the Davies Competition Law and Foreign Investment Group outlines the “Top 10″ key issues and trends to watch for this year.
1. A Green Light for Class Actions by Indirect Purchasers
The Supreme Court of Canada issued an important trilogy of decisions in October 2013 on competition class actions. Resolving a dispute between certain provincial courts of appeal, the Court held that indirect purchasers are entitled to assert claims for damages and restitution in class actions relying upon alleged competition law offences. (Indirect purchasers are entities that are one or more steps removed fr [...]
In anticipation of a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing next week, entitled “The FTC at 100: Where Do We Go from Here,” David Balto offers this post, discussing the important role Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act can play in the battle with patent trolls.
One hundred years ago Congress created the Federal Trade Commission to serve as this nation’s consumer protection cop. Recognizing the limits of the antitrust laws and the lack of consumer protection law Congress gave it broad powers under Section 5 of the FTC Act to attack “unfair trade practices” and “unfair methods of competition.” On December 3, the House Energy and Commerce Committee will hold an FTC oversight h [...]
It’s going to be a strict, nearly-per-se quick look rule, folks, in more or less every reverse-payment case likely to be brought from here on out. Dollars-to-donuts.
A few weeks have gone by, and quite a lot of folks are chewing over the entrails of Federal Trade Commission v. Actavis, Inc. The case may finally have ended the decades-long saga of the so-called “reverse payment” or “pay-for-delay” settlements, in which a branded incumbent drug maker pays a would-be generic entrant to stay out of its market and respect its patent. Unlike most lower courts to consider them, the five-Justice Actavis majority found these deals subject to Sherman Act challenge, under a standard that [...]
A “reverse payment” settlement agreement is not entitled to “near-automatic antitrust immunity” simply because its anticompetitive effects fall within the scope of the exclusionary potential of the patent, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled earlier this week in a five-to-three decision. Although such agreements, also known as “pay-for-delay” settlements, are not presumptively unlawful, the FTC should be permitted to challenge reverse-payment agreements between Solvay Pharmaceuticals and would-be generic competitors Watson Pharmaceuticals (now Actavis, Inc.) and Paddock Pharmaceuticals under a rule of reason analysis. The case is FTC v. Actavis, Inc., Dkt. No. 12-416.
Reverse paymen [...]
(Note: In December 2012, the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission held a Hearing on the impact of patent assertion entities (PAEs) on innovation and competition and the implications for antitrust enforcement policy. The Agencies then issued a Request for Public Comments on the topic of the Hearing. In response, on April 5th, Richard Wolfram submitted the following comment to the DOJ and FTC, adapted and shortened here for Antitrust Connect. The full Public Comment – one of almost 70 public comments submitted to the Agencies — is available at http://www.ftc.gov/os/comments/pae/pae-0066.pdf or from the author.)
This comment is submitted in my personal capacity and d [...]
Commissioner Edith Ramirez became the new Chairwoman of the Federal Trade Commission on March 4. The White House announced the selection on February 28th.
Chairwoman Ramirez is an excellent choice for antitrust enforcement generally, but is truly an ideal Chair for the FTC as it prepares to face the next generation of anti-competitive practices stemming from patent misuse. She uniquely combines an IP litigation background with a commitment to aggressively enforce the spirit and the letter of the antitrust laws, and may prove a valuable friend in the movement for patent litigation reform.
Prior to joining the FTC, Chairwoman Ramirez was a partner with top intellectual property litigation fi [...]
We all remember the movie “Reversal of Fortune” that retells the real life story of Claus von Bulow, accused of attempting to kill his super-wealthy wife. When the movie begins life looks extremely bleak for Claus – he has been convicted of murder, the factual evidence seems compelling and he seems like a wholly unsavory character. Yet Alan Dershowitz arrives on the scene, and although he believes Claus is guilty, he finds new legal avenues, undermines the key evidence, and reverses the conviction.
Google’s opponents probably feel like Claus with the news that the decision in the ongoing Federal Trade Commission antitrust investigation has been delayed. The FTC seemed poised to close [...]