January 2009

[Update: the FTC did file a reply brief.  Link here]

All the briefs are in on the FTC petition for cert in its antitrust case against Rambus, (unless the FTC decides to file a reply brief, which is unlikely to change things much). I’ve added the Rambus opposition to the Rambus Group page on scribd.com, here. Now its time for the antitrust community to hold its breath and see whether the Court takes the case. Some knowledgeable commentators have opined that FTC/Rambus case has the best chance of any antitrust case obtaining review this year, but that plus a dime will get you …. well, nothing I guess. If the petition is allowed, it will be very exciting times for antitrust and standards setting law and policy wonks.

In federal court in Boston the Gatehouse Media v. New York Times case (described in these two (1, 2) earlier posts) has settled, as I suspected it would.… Read the full article

The Poor Man’s Son

by Lee Gesmer on January 26, 2009

The Poor Man's Son

I come across passages that I’ll share from time to time. I post them because they tickle my fancy or because I find they contain some insight, perspective or humor that appeals to me.  This quote seemed apropos given the economic meltdown of 2008 and the vast destruction of wealth that accompanied it.

“The poor man’s son, whom heaven in its anger has visited with ambition, admires the condition of the rich. It appears in his fancy like the life of some superior rank of beings, and, in order to arrive at it, he devotes himself forever to the pursuit of wealth and greatness. Through the whole of his life, he pursues the idea of a certain artificial and elegant repose, which he may never arrive at, for which he sacrifices a real tranquility that is at all times in his power, and which, if in the extremity of old age, he should at last attain to it, he will find to be in no respect preferable to that humble security and contentment which he had abandoned for it.

Read the full article

Cameras in Judge Gertner’s Court? Not Quite Yet

by Lee Gesmer on January 22, 2009

Cameras in Judge Gertner's Court?  Not Quite Yet

The Boston Globe reports that U.S. District Judge Nancy Gertner has stayed last week’s decision allowing a motion hearng in the Tenenbaum music downloading case to be “narrowcast” on the Internet, pending an appeal to the First Circuit by the RIAA.  Apparently, the RIAA feels strongly enough about this issue to ask for immediate appellate review, and Judge Gertner agreed to keep cameras out of court, at least for the moment.

My take? Cameras in the courtroom should be within the discretion of the judge, who exercises control over that courtroom, and the First Circuit should deny the RIAA’s appeal.  The more that the public sees what goes on in our federal courts, the better for our judicial system.… Read the full article

Ninth Circuit: Refusal to Allow Embedded Videos and Links in MySpace Not a Sherman Act Violation

You would think that in a capitalist economy the right of one business to to say to another “I don’t want to deal with you” would be close to sacrosanct.  And, you would be right, with qualified exceptions in cases where the party refusing to deal has monopoly power.  Even then, the Supreme Court has narrowed the “duty to deal” to  fact situations so limited that antitrust liability can be avoided with careful planning.

The two leading Supreme Court cases in this area of the law are Aspen Skiing Co. v. Aspen Highlands Skiing Corp., 472 U. S. 585, 601 (1985) and Verizon Communications Inc. v. Law Offices of Curtis V. Trinko, LLP, 540 U.S. 398 (2004).  Post-Trinko, the consensus of the courts is that “refusal to deal” claims are viable only where there was no voluntary prior course of dealing between the parties, where the monopolist’s  conduct increased its short term profits, or where the refusal to deal is used to monopolize an adjacent market.… Read the full article