USA Tipline

Wins and losses: The Tipline for 9 April 2020

GCR USA - 09 April 2020

The Department of Justice yesterday wrapped up its cases against South Korean fuel suppliers, brought under section 4a of the Clayton Act, as it settled with a fuel supplier accused of participating in a conspiracy to rig bids for fuel sales to US military bases. The Delaware federal judge who presided over the agency’s case against the merger of travel technology companies Sabre and Farelogix also released his opinion yesterday, saying the DOJ failed to meet its burden for showing the merger should be blocked. And lastly, a reminder that GCR USA is taking an Easter holiday, but will be back in your inbox Tuesday morning.

Sabre’s fair logic: The Tipline for 8 April 2020

GCR USA - 08 April 2020

Judge Leonard Stark ruled against the Department of Justice yesterday on its challenge to the merger of travel technology companies Sabre and Farelogix. The opinion is under seal for now, but the parties must provide a redacted version to the court tomorrow. Sabre and Farelogix are also waiting on a final decision on the deal from the UK's Competition and Markets Authority, which provisionally found that the merger would substantially harm competition. Meanwhile, the Federal Trade Commission required a divestiture in a merger of prosthetics makers.

Anti-pants: The Tipline for 7 April 2020

GCR USA - 07 April 2020

The Federal Trade Commission might still be wearing pyjamas past noon, but the agency has said its standards for enforcement will not change because of the covid-19 pandemic. “The antitrust laws are flexible enough to account for changing market conditions, even during uncertain times,” wrote bureau of competition director Ian Conner in a blog post on Monday, assuring readers that the agency would not lower its standards for effective relief.

Colluding against covid-19: The Tipline for 6 April 2020

GCR USA - 06 April 2020

The Department of Justice has blessed a collaborative effort among medical equipment manufacturers to ramp up production of masks needed by first responders combatting the covid-19 pandemic. You can also now count cattle ranching among the industries thrown into turmoil: cattle prices fell dramatically during February and March, putting the livelihood of ranchers in question. Yet beef prices have not seen the same decline, which has prompted some lawmakers to question if dominant beef packers are playing fair.

Happy 20th birthday, Microsoft: The Tipline for 3 April 2020

GCR USA - 03 April 2020

On this day in 2000, Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson ruled in favour of the Department of Justice’s antitrust division and 21 state attorneys general, finding that Microsoft had “maintained its monopoly power by anticompetitive means and attempted to monopolise the Web browser market”. To celebrate, we have a roundup of hires and promotions, more on the Federal Trade Commission suing to unwind Altria’s investment in JUUL and a DOJ April Fool’s Day joke.

Unpuffing the cigarette: The Tipline for 2 April 2020

GCR USA - 02 April 2020

Everyone in the antitrust world knows it is difficult to unscramble an egg. But what about unpuffing a cigarette? The Federal Trade Commission is seeking to unwind Altria’s $12.8 billion investment in JUUL, the electronic cigarette manufacturer it used to compete with. Meanwhile, T-Mobile and Sprint officially cracked their shells and mixed their yolks yesterday. Where does Dish Network fall into this egg metaphor? Luckily for you, GCR USA will not stretch this analogy any further.

Deal, no deal: The Tipline for 1 April 2020

GCR USA - 01 April 2020

Deals continue to move through the clearance process amid the covid-19 pandemic, with the Department of Justice’s antitrust division unconditionally approving Morgan Stanley’s purchase of trading platform E*Trade. One of the larger potential deals of the year fell apart amid the pandemic and resulting market disruption, however: Xerox dropped its $35 billion hostile takeover bid for larger printing rival HP. We have a story on antitrust counterclaims in a patent infringement case beating a motion to dismiss, and also updates on two dismissals of antitrust cases, which include a ruling in favour of the National Hot Rod Association.

Covidien & covid-19: The Tipline for 31 March 2020

GCR USA - 31 March 2020

As the US faces a shortage of ventilators amidst the covid-19 pandemic, a New York Times report has spotlighted Covidien’s 2012 acquisition of an innovative competitor. The US government had reportedly contracted Newport Medical Instruments to manufacture tens-of-thousands of ventilators for its emergency stockpiles, but those plans collapsed following its acquisition by Covidien, leaving some competition practitioners to question if the Federal Trade Commission missed a “killer acquisition”.

Bye-bye buy box: The Tipline for 30 March 2020

GCR USA - 30 March 2020

Amazon acknowledges that its recent prioritisation of high-demand items amid the coronavirus pandemic led to an “unintended variation” in its algorithm that prevented some rival third-party listings from appearing as the top choice in its “buy box”. That’s not the only buy box GCR USA is eyeing, however, as we offer our warm welcome back to early terminations. The Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice’s antitrust division said the success of their e-filing system means they will resume granting early terminations when appropriate.

Two trillion dollars: The Tipline for 27 March 2020

GCR USA - 27 March 2020

In spy parody movie Austin Powers, Dr Evil originally proposes to hold the world ransom for one million dollars. When his henchmen say that isn’t enough, he ups the ransom to $100 billion. The US Senate’s covid-19 recovery package goes far beyond either of Dr Evil’s numbers, providing a total of $2.2 trillion in financial relief in response to the coronavirus crisis. The package significantly outstrips annual defence spending, a major US government outlay. The DOJ settled concerns over a major deal in that sector yesterday, with antitrust chief Makan Delrahim saying divestitures in three markets would protect taxpayers from any competitive harms that would result from the merger of United Technologies Corporation and Raytheon.