This is a brief follow-up to my earlier post, Copyright Infringement? Peloton Punches Back With Antitrust.
Under Section 1 of the Sherman Act a “contact, combination or conspiracy” in restraint of trade is illegal. However, the Sherman Act says nothing about how much evidence is necessary to file a lawsuit alleging an illegal antitrust conspiracy. In other words, what factual allegations do you need in the complaint to avoid having it dismissed? In lawyer-speak: “what do we need to get into court?”
This question arises frequently in antitrust litigation, and it’s often a close call. Evidence of an antitrust conspiracy may exist, and it may be accessible via discovery, but the plaintiff needs to make enough factual allegations to avoid dismissal to get access to discovery and prove the conspiracy. If it can’t allege the illegal conduct in a complaint, it’s likely to face a motion to dismiss that will kill the case at its inception.… Read the full article
[This is the first in a series of posts that will follow FTC v. Qualcomm as it proceeds through the Ninth Circuit and perhaps to the Supreme Court]
Antitrust law in the United States is regulated by both the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Usually, these two agencies are able to reach a common understanding on antitrust policy and enforcement. Infrequently, they find themselves in disagreement. Currently, the proper antitrust treatment of standard-essential patents and patent-holder commitments to make these patents available on “fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms” is such an occasion. The disagreement has come to a head in FTC v. Qualcomm, now on appeal before the Ninth Circuit.
Standard-Essential Patents and “FRAND” First, a brief introduction to standard setting and essential patents.
A technological standard adopted by a standard setting organization (an “SSO”) may sometimes be written in such a way that it is impossible to build a product or provide a service without infringing on one or more patents.… Read the full article
[This post was updated in September 2019: “Contract, Combination or Conspiracy” – Can Peloton’s Lawsuit Survive the Music Publishers’ Motion to Dismiss?]
Can a trade association negotiate sales or licenses on behalf of its members? Can it tell members, “don’t negotiate individually with a specific purchaser, and if you are already in negotiations with that purchaser cut them off and let us negotiate on behalf of you and other members”? At what point does this conduct become an antitrust violation?
These are the issues raised in a lawsuit between Peloton Interactive, Inc. on the one hand, and a group of music publishers and the National Music Publishers Association, Inc. (NMPA) on the other.
Peloton and Music Licensing. Peloton sells high-end, in-home stationary bicycles. An important feature of Peloton’s service is music-backed, instructor-led workout classes streamed to users via a built-in video screen. Some of these classes are broadcast live, and many are recorded and accessed on-demand.… Read the full article
All antitrust cases are tried twice – once before the appeal, and once after the appeal. anon
The district court decision in U.S. v. Apple presents about as clear a case of price fixing as one can imagine. Apple participated in a conspiracy with five of the “Big Six” publishers (an incestuous group based entirely in Manhattan) to raise prices for e-books above the $9.99 price charged by Amazon.
This was not subtle stuff—it was conduct worthy of the classic 19th century price fixers that led to enactment of the Sherman Antitrust Act in 1890. Secret meetings among competitors to figure out a way to stop the hated price-cutter (Amazon), a White Knight that facilitates the conspiracy to foil the price-cutter (Apple), and an industry with its feet deeply planted in tradition (book publishing) under assault from a new technology (e-book publishing).
The only thing that makes this price-fixing conspiracy different from those in the 19th century is the massive email trail that the parties left, making the government’s courtroom proof that much easier.… Read the full article