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Optical Illusion: Lack of Overcharge Evidence Yields Summary Judgment Victory for Optical Disk Drive Manufacturers

Manufacturers of optical disk drives defeated electronics companies’, retailers’ and indirect purchaser plaintiffs’ conspiracy claims after seven years of litigation. On December 18, 2017, the US District Court for the Northern District of California issued simultaneous orders that granted summary judgment in favor of defendants after finding that the electronics companies, retailers and indirect purchasers failed to demonstrate evidence of injury and causation. Continue Reading.

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DOJ and FTC Release New Antitrust Guidelines for International Enforcement and Cooperation

On Friday, January 13, 2017, the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) released the new Antitrust Guidelines for International Enforcement and Cooperation. These guidelines were jointly developed by the agencies and serve to update the Antitrust Enforcement Guidelines for International Operations that have been in place since April 1995. The new guidelines include a revised discussion on conduct involving foreign commerce, a new chapter on international cooperation, and updated language, case law, and illustrative examples throughout. Read the full article here.

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Supreme Court Asked to Clarify the Reach of U.S. Antitrust Laws to Foreign Conduct

On March 16, 2015, AU Optronics Corporation America Inc. (AU Optronics) and Motorola Mobility LLC separately asked the U.S. Supreme Court to clarify the Foreign Trade Antitrust Improvements Act (FTAIA) and the extent to which its language allows foreign conduct to be brought within the scope of the Sherman Act.  The requests for review follow from potentially conflicting holdings from the Seventh and Ninth Circuits in cases that stem from distinct interpretations of the same provisions in the FTAIA and involve the very same conduct – AU Optronics’ and its co-conspirators’ agreement overseas to fix the prices of liquid crystal display (LCD) panels.  The cases have different procedural foundations in that the Ninth Circuit case is a criminal suit brought by the Department of Justice (DOJ), while the Seventh Circuit case is a civil matter in which private parties are seeking damages. In Hsiung,[i] AU Optronics appeals the Ninth Circuit’s holding that the Sherman...

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Seventh Circuit Denies Rehearing in LCD Price-Fixing Suit by Motorola

On January 12, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals refused Motorola Mobility LLC’s petition for a rehearing en banc of its price-fixing claims against foreign manufacturers of liquid crystal display (LCD) panels. Motorola Mobility LLC v. AU Optronics Corp., et al., case number 14-8003. Motorola alleged that these foreign manufacturers violated Section 1 of the Sherman Act by conspiring with each other to set the price for LCD panels. Only approximately 1 percent of the panels sold to Motorola by defendants were purchased by and delivered to Motorola in the United States to be used in the assembly of Motorola cellphones. Motorola’s foreign subsidiaries purchased the rest – with 57 percent of all panels bought by a Motorola entity incorporated into cellphones sold abroad, and the remaining 42 percent assembled by the Motorola foreign subsidiary into cellphones and then sold to and delivered to Motorola for resale in the United States. The Northern District of...

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Automotive Bearings Price-Fixing Allegations Survive FTAIA Defense

On August 26, 2014, the Eastern District of Michigan denied a motion by a Japanese manufacturer and its U.S.-based subsidiary (NTN Corporation and NTN USA Corporation) to dismiss the direct and indirect purchaser complaints in In re Bearings, 2:12-cv-00500-MOB-MKM (E.D. Mich. Aug. 26, 2014), one of the cases in the In re Automotive Parts Antitrust Litigation MDL, No. 12-md-02311.  Following an investigation by the Japan Fair Trade Commission in 2013, NTN admitted to participating in a conspiracy to fix prices for bearings, which the complaints describe as “friction-reducing devices that allow one moving part to glide past another moving part.” According to NTN, the plaintiffs were trying to use NTN’s participation in a price-fixing conspiracy in Japan to “link NTN to a different conspiracy in the United States” simply because NTN had “knowledge that some of its bearings sold in foreign markets would enter the United States market.”  This “theory of global...

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FTAIA and Foreign Sales: Seventh Circuit Limits Extraterritorial Reach of U.S. Antitrust Law in Motorola Mobility v. AU Optronics

On March 27, 2014, in Motorola Mobility LLC v. AU Optronics Corp., the Seventh Circuit set precedent in the growing body of law interpreting the Foreign Trade Antitrust Improvements Act (FTAIA).  Judge Posner held that the FTAIA bars antitrust suits over restraints in foreign markets for parts (inputs) used abroad to manufacture products later imported into the United States.  The court held that such price fixing fails the FTAIA’s “direct effects” test, as well as the FTAIA requirement that the effect of the defendant’s conduct "gives rise to" an antitrust claim in the United States. Read the full article.

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Potash Price-Fixing Case Opinion Vacated and to be Reheard En Banc

by Nicole Castle On December 2, 2011, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals granted plaintiffs’ petition for rehearing en banc and vacated the opinion issued by a Seventh Circuit panel in Minn-Chem, Inc. v. Agrium Inc., No. 10-1712.  The Seventh Circuit panel had issued an order on September 23, 2011, directing the district court to dismiss a class-action price-fixing complaint against global producers of potash, a mineral used primarily in agricultural fertilizer.  The plaintiffs alleged a global price-fixing cartel among Canadian, Russian and Belarusian producers of potash, alleging that they fixed potash prices in Brazil, China and India, and the inflated prices in these overseas markets in turn influenced the price of potash sold in the United States.  The defendants moved to dismiss the complaint under Rules 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, arguing first that the district court...

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