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Procurement Collusion Strike Force’s Focus on Detection Yielding New Investigations

On March 3, 2020, the American Bar Association (ABA) hosted a Q&A with two members of the Procurement Collusion Strike Force (PCSF)—Mark Grundvig, the Assistant Chief of the DOJ Antitrust Division’s Criminal II section, and Marcus Mills, Special Agent, Major Fraud Investigations Division, USPS Office of Inspector General. During the course of the Q&A, Mr. Grundvig and Mr. Mills provided their perspective on the goals and progress of the PCSF. WHAT HAPPENED: The PCSF representatives explained that the PCSF is heavily focused on improving detection of per se antitrust violations such as bid-rigging, price-fixing and market-allocation. To improve detection, the PCSF is: Training agents on per se antitrust violations and other anticompetitive conduct to improve agents’ ability to spot antitrust violations; Training industry participants via tradeshows and industry conferences on per se antitrust violations and other anticompetitive conduct to increase...

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DOJ Enforcement Update: Higher Education

According to press reports, the Antitrust Division of the US Department of Justice (DOJ) is investigating several issues related to admission of students to institutions of higher learning. In January, reports emerged that DOJ was investigating whether the National Association of College Admission Counseling’s (NACAC’s) ethical guidelines violate the antitrust laws. The DOJ appeared to be concerned about an agreement not to recruit students who have enrolled, registered, declared their intent or submitted deposits to other institutions. This could affect so-called early decision programs, under which students pledge to attend a particular school in return for early consideration of their applications. Although early decision programs have existed for many years, the DOJ could be concerned about schools putting “teeth” into such programs by agreeing with each other not to recruit or accept students who pledge to enroll at other schools. In early April, the...

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The Supreme Court Clarifies When Antitrust Law Applies to Joint Ventures in American Needle Inc. v. National Football League, Inc.

by Jon B. Dubrow, Stephen Wu and Vincent C. van Panhuys In a unanimous decision issued on May 24, 2010, the Supreme Court of the United States clarified when participants in a joint venture may face antitrust liability for their joint activities.   In American Needle, Inc. v. National Football League, Inc., et al, the Supreme Court ruled that the National Football League (NFL) and its member teams are not immune from the antitrust laws when licensing the teams’ intellectual property rights jointly through a single entity.  Instead, the antitrust laws do apply and the teams’/League’s conduct must be analyzed to determine whether it can be an agreement in restraint of trade violating the antitrust laws. The American Needle decision has broad application to joint ventures and other collaborations involving competitors across all industries.  This is because the Supreme Court held that participants to a joint venture are...

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