USA Tipline

Delrahim on the sidelines: The Tipline for 5 February 2020

GCR USA - 05 February 2020

With trial in the Department of Justice’s case against the merger of Sabre and Farelogix ending tomorrow, is it too soon to start thinking about the cases the DOJ might bring in its investigation of technology companies? That inquiry is moving along, according to a few recent press reports. A DOJ spokesperson confirmed that deputy attorney general Jeffrey Rosen and other agency officials met with state attorneys general regarding antitrust enforcement in technology markets yesterday, but the spokesman did not say what companies agency representatives discussed with the states. And assistant attorney general Makan Delrahim has recused himself from the DOJ’s investigation of Google, the New York Times reported yesterday, while Reuters said the DOJ has interviewed app developers as part of its investigation of Apple.

Economic face-offs and a shaving battleground: The Tipline for 4 February 2020

GCR USA - 04 February 2020

Sabre and Farelogix economics expert Kevin Murphy testified yesterday on the penultimate day of witness testimony in the Department of Justice’s challenge to the airfare booking merger. He said his view of the deal as a vertical merger was superior to the horizontal “booking services” framework the DOJ proposed. In another economics duel, a group of amici have presented the judge reviewing the DOJ’s T-Mobile/Sprint settlement with a rebuttal to a separate group of economists’ claims that the deal will harm competition. We also have news of the Federal Trade Commission suing to block Edgewell Personal Care’s $1.37 billion deal for seven-year-old razor manufacturer Harry’s.

Kansas City to Iowa: The Tipline for 3 February 2020

GCR USA - 03 February 2020

The Kansas City Chiefs won the National Football League’s Super Bowl last night, with quarterback Patrick Mahomes leading a fourth-quarter comeback. Eyes are also north of the Chiefs’ Kansas City, Missouri home today, as Iowa’s Democrat caucuses kick off to determine who will be the state’s democratic nominee in November’s general election. We have a feature on the role antitrust has played in those campaigns, along with more on the Department of Justice’s case against Sabre and Farelogix.

Working for the weekend: The Tipline for 31 January 2020

GCR USA - 31 January 2020

The Department of Justice’s case against the proposed tie-up of Sabre and Farelogix moved into economic analysis yesterday, as Antitrust Division expert economist Aviv Nevo testified that travel technology company Farelogix provides important leverage for airlines negotiating booking fees with Sabre. The case will hit the halfway mark tomorrow, with DOJ lawyers and defence counsel (and GCR) returning for an anticipated four days of trial next week.

Happy birthday FDR: The Tipline for 30 January 2020

GCR USA - 30 January 2020

Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the 32nd US President, was born 138 years ago today in Hyde Park, New York. Democrats frequently refer to FDR when promising to offer more progressive policy. But they should be careful with their dates when referencing the antitrust enforcement record of the only US president to be elected to either a third or fourth term in the White House. FDR’s “First” New Deal was “characterised by a remarkable lack of enthusiasm” for competition enforcement, according to Herbert Hovenkamp. The University of Pennsylvania law professor describes a dramatic reversal during FDR’s second term after the president appointed Thurman Arnold to head the Department of Justice’s antitrust division: “No antitrust enforcement agency before or since has had such a strong conception of market failure, or faith in antitrust policy as the corrective.” Under the “Second” New Deal, the administration attacked vertical integration and alleged abuses of intellectual property rights.

Bulking season: The Tipline for 29 January 2020

GCR USA - 29 January 2020

Many bodybuilders partake in periods of enormous caloric intake, or bulking, to put on the muscle needed for a competition later down the road. Many amateur weightlifters use it as a justification to eat whatever they desire. While we do not know for sure if the Department of Justice’s investigation into market-leading platforms will lead to a lawsuit, we do know that the agency is putting on some serious gains. The Antitrust Division is seeking 10 paralegals and an unspecified number of trial attorneys to work on the probe. It also has hired a tech-focused antitrust attorney to its front office.

The stuff of nightmares: The Tipline for 28 January 2020

GCR USA - 28 January 2020

The Antitrust Division opened its case against Sabre/Farelogix yesterday, calling as witnesses two airline executives who attacked the deal in no uncertain terms. United Airlines executive Tye Radcliffe said that when he heard about the merger he told others in the company it was “the stuff of nightmares but we’ll get through it”. We have Federal Trade Commission news as well: the agency brought a lawsuit with New York attorney general Letitia James against Vyera Pharmaceuticals, Martin Shkreli and another executive alleging the company blocked generic rivals from gaining access to samples.

Sabre in Delaware: The Tipline for 27 January 2020

GCR USA - 27 January 2020

The Department of Justice goes to trial in Delaware today seeking to block travel technology company Sabre’s purchase of Farelogix. The DOJ claims that Sabre is buying up a disruptive competitor while Sabre says it does not compete directly with Farelogix. We’ll have updates from each day of the trial, which is scheduled to run until next Thursday. Meanwhile, digital telecommunications technology company United American is preparing for trial against Bitmain and in a Florida federal court, alleging manipulation of a cryptocurrency market.

Fare competition: The Tipline for 24 January 2020

GCR USA - 24 January 2020

Trial in the Department of Justice’s case against travel booking technology company Sabre’s purchase of Farelogix begins on Monday. We have previews of the government’s case and Sabre’s defence. Fittingly, we also have a report from a teleconference where a lawyer from the Federal Trade Commission explained how the other US antitrust agency reviews acquisitions of nascent competitors. Keep scrolling down for updates on two private lawsuits against dominant companies in their respective industries: one against large academic book publishers and booksellers brought by independent bookshops, and one against Google brought by a digital advertising platform.

The government always wins: The Tipline for 23 January 2020

GCR USA - 23 January 2020

Former Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart would have turned 105 today. His definition of obscenity – “I know it when I see it” – has been passed down through the ages, but it is not to be overshadowed by his dissenting opinion in Vons Grocery. There, he took issue with the court’s seven-to-one order finding that a joint operating agreement between two Arizona newspapers violated federal antitrust laws. In an earlier case, Justice Stewart said the sole consistency he could find in litigation brought under section 7 of the Clayton Act is that “the government always wins.” Congress has since given newspapers antitrust exemptions for joint operating agreements.