Heard at the 2024 Antitrust Law Section Spring Meeting: Part II

The American Bar Association Antitrust Law Section’s annual Spring Meeting concluded on April 12. The annual Spring Meeting featured updates from federal, state and international antitrust enforcers and extensive discussion on priority antitrust issues affecting various industries. In this article, we highlight takeaways from the final two days of the Spring Meeting.

Read more here.




Heard at the 2024 Antitrust Law Section Spring Meeting: Part I

The American Bar Association Antitrust Law Section’s annual Spring Meeting is underway in Washington, DC. The annual Spring Meeting features updates from federal, state and international antitrust enforcers and extensive discussion on priority antitrust issues affecting various industries. In this article, we highlight the key takeaways from the first portion of the Spring Meeting.

Read more here.




Google Moves to Dismiss Third Complaint Alleging Tying of Google Maps API Services

BACKGROUND

Google LLC and Alphabet Inc. (Google) moved to dismiss a third successive complaint that alleged it tied the sales of Maps, Routes and Places application programming interface (API) services to one another. A basic tying claim involves a seller leveraging its market power in one product (the “tying” product) to force sales and gain market share over a different product (the “tied” product).

Following the dismissal of an initial complaint filed in 2022, the plaintiffs filed an amended complaint alleging Google created a “three-way” tying arrangement by conditioning the sale of one API service (e.g., Maps) on the required purchase of the two other services (e.g., Routes and Places) through its contractual terms of service.

The plaintiffs alleged that the tying product could be any of the three APIs and that Google had market power in all three. Whichever plaintiffs bought first was the tying product, and the other two were tied products – allegedly locked in by forced sale or prohibition on use of competitor APIs as a condition of the first sale.

The court granted Google’s motion to dismiss because the plaintiffs did not explain how a product could be both a tying product (requiring market power) and the tied product (lacking market power) depending simply on the order of the sales.

In their second amended complaint, the plaintiffs abandoned the three-way tying claim, instead bringing a basic tying claim with Maps as the tying product and Routes and Places as the tied products. Google has again moved to dismiss the complaint.

THE DETAILS

  • Maps, Routes and Places APIs are interrelated but separately licensed services that appear alongside each other in mapping applications like Google Maps.
  • In response to the first amended complaint, Google argued that the plaintiffs did not explain how a product could be both a tying and a tied product depending on the order of sale, given the inherent conflicts in market power required of each.
  • Google also argued that it had broad rights to dictate the terms of use and display of its mapping services, including a right to protect and control user experience through restricting use of its mapping API services in conjunction with or in proximity to non-Google mapping API services, relying in part on a case called Sambreel. 906 F. Supp. 2d at 1073 (S.D. Cal. 2012).
  • The US Department of Justice Antitrust Division (DOJ) intervened, filing a Statement of Interest urging the court to reject Google’s interpretation of Sambreel as establishing an “unqualified right” over the use and display of its services. The DOJ did not take a position on whether the claim should survive otherwise.
  • The court agreed with the DOJ, holding that Google’s interpretation of “control” is too broad and could justify any tying arrangement as an exercise of a supplier’s right to determine or dictate the terms on which its product or service was used.
  • The court also found that the plaintiffs failed to explain how a product could be either a tying [...]

    Continue Reading



Antitrust M&A Snapshot | Q4 2023

Topics covered in this edition:

  • New Merger Guidelines Released
  • FTC Focused on Pharmaceutical Companies
  • FTC Targets “Moat-Building” Mergers
  • Fifth Circuit Fuels FTC’s Vertical Mergers Agenda
  • FTC Losing Streak Reverses During the Fourth Quarter
  • Ex post Review in the Merger Control Sphere Occurring More and More Frequently

Access the full issue.




The Fix Is In – Key Learnings From Recent Vertical Merger Challenges

Vertical mergers are inherently more difficult for the government to litigate than horizonal mergers. After not litigating a vertical merger case since the 1970s, the Federal Trade Commission and the US Department of Justice have recently tried several matters.

In this Westlaw Today article, Jon Dubrow, Stephen Wu, Matt Evola and Bailey Sanders discuss key insights from these cases and provide useful guidance for companies contemplating such transactions.

Read more here.




BLOG EDITORS

STAY CONNECTED

TOPICS

ARCHIVES

Ranked In Chambers USA 2022
US Leading Firm 2022