Wow, what a success! The Antitrust Division recently announced that its investigations in the auto parts market uncovered “separate conspiracies to fix the prices of more than 30 different products sold to US car manufacturers ….”  This adds to the results thus far in the investigation, with guilty pleas from 20 companies and fines of over $1.6 billion. Seventeen executives are either in or headed to prison. And ongoing investigations mean more are in the works. In the words of the head of criminal enforcement in the Division, “The deterrent impact of their sentences should resonate in boardrooms around the world.”
But wait, should this make us feel comfortable about antitrust enforceme [...]
The Department of Justice Antitrust Division on Friday filed its proposed remedy with the federal district court in New York City, addressing Apple Inc.’s role in a conspiracy among publishers to fix retail prices for electronic books, or e-books. Following a bench trial, the court last month found Apple liable in an action brought by the Justice Department and 33 states and territories. At that time, the court said it would entertain the plaintiffs’ request for injunctive relief and damages at a later date.
According to the government’s Memorandum of Law in Support of Proposed Injunction, the proposed final judgment “will halt Apple’s anticompetitive conduct, restore lost competit [...]
Apple Inc. played a central role in facilitating and executing a conspiracy among publishers to fix retail prices for electronic books, or e-books, the federal district court in New York City decided last week. The finding of liability against Apple comes after a bench trial that lasted from June 3 to June 20 in an action brought by the U.S. Department of Justice and 33 states and territories.
In April 2012, the Department of Justice Antitrust Division and a number of state attorneys general brought actions against Apple and leading publishers for conspiring to fix the sales prices of e-books. The suits named as defendants Apple and publishers Hachette Book Group (USA), HarperCollins Publish [...]
The Ninth Circuit on Thursday ruled that a plaintiff need not make a purchase in California to recover overcharges for price-fixed goods under the California Cartwright Act.
AT&T Corporation and other telecommunications companies that sold mobile wireless handsets containing liquid crystal display (LCD) panels could assert price fixing claims under the California Cartwright Act against manufacturers and distributors of LCD panels to recover overcharges, even though none of their purchases were made in California, the U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco decided. Dismissal of the California law claims on the ground that the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment forbid the applicati [...]
The federal district court in New York City yesterday denied a “consumer’s” motion to intervene in the Justice Department’s action against Apple, Inc. and five publishers for allegedly conspiring to fix prices for electronic books or “e-books.” The motion was filed by Bob Kohn for the purpose of appealing from a September 6 final judgment ((CCH) 2012-2 Trade Cases ¶78,042), resolving the government’s antitrust allegations against three of the five publishers.
Kohn describes himself as a “consumer of digital goods, author of a treatise on copyright, and founder and CEO of technology companies directly involved in the digital distribution of music and e-books,” the court explained. He gain [...]
Yesterday, the federal district court in San Francisco imposed a record-tying $500 million fine on AU Optronics Corporation (AUO), a Taiwan-based liquid crystal display (LCD) producer, for its participation in a five-year conspiracy to fix the prices of thin-film transistor LCD panels. The company and its U.S. subsidiary also were placed on probation for three years and ordered to implement antitrust compliance programs.
The sentencing follows a jury’s conviction in March 2012 of AU Optronics Corporation, AU Optronics Corporation America, and two high-level executives–Hsuan Bin Chen, and Hui Hsiung.
Joseph Wayland, Acting Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Department of Justice An [...]
The federal district court in New York City yesterday approved a U.S. consent decree that resolves U.S. Department of Justice allegations against three publishers for participating in a conspiracy to fix prices for electronic books or “e-books.” The consent decree with Hachette Book Group, Inc., HarperCollins Publishers L.L.C., and Simon & Schuster, Inc. was found to be in the public interest.
The government alleged that the three settling publishers and two non-settling publishers–MacMillan and Penguin Group–acted collectively to switch to a new sales model for e-books known as the “agency model” and entered into functionally-identical agreements with non-settling defendant Apple, Inc., wh [...]
Well, okay, I guess there might just possibly have been an appellate decision this week of even more pressing moment, but I believe something important and very positive happened in the Seventh Circuit yesterday: the en banc reversal in Minn-Chem, Inc. v. Agrium, Inc., No. 10-1712 (7th Cir. June 27, 2012) (en banc) (“Potash II”). The court ruled that plaintiffs had pled a foreign price-fixing conspiracy that it is subject to U.S. antitrust under the Foreign Trade Antitrust Improvements Act. I suppose Potash II is itself a case primarily about FTAIA, and it is now second in importance within the FTAIA caselaw only to the Supreme Court’s Empagran ruling. But as I’ve suggested before, I [...]
The government’s successful prosecution of AU Optronics Corporation, its wholly-owned U.S. subsidiary, and two former company executives serves as a cautionary tale. The case marks the first time a company has gone to trial over charges resulting from a U.S. investigation into an international cartel. It highlights the dangers of participating in a price fixing conspiracy and perhaps more importantly the risks of fighting the Justice Department’s charges in court.
A recent decision of federal district court in San Francisco is a reminder of these hazards. On June 11, the court issued an order denying the defendants’ motions under Rule 29 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure for acquitt [...]
In recent months, again there have been major developments in German competition law. Some of these developments have unfolded in high-tech industries, such as chipboard panel manufacturing, online video services and telecommunications, while others have arisen in more traditional contexts.
At the legislative level, the German government has presented a draft bill for a major revision of the German Act against Restraints of Competition (ARC), which is intended to align the German competition regime even closer to the EU rules. In the merger field, the German Federal Cartel Office (FCO) has made headlines with the prohibition of a planned video-on-demand joint venture between the two main pri [...]