Antitrust

Amici Briefs Supporting Supreme Court Review in FTC v. Rambus

When old engineers (and old lawyers) sit around decades from now reminiscing about patent and antitrust law in the late 1990s and early 2000s, the name of Rambus is sure to come up.  The topic will not be the Rambus DRAM (or RDRAM) chip technologies, but rather the massive volume of litigation that Rambus set off as result of its alleged “patent hold-up” actions and its patent enforcement efforts.

Rambus, the lawyers on either side of its many cases, the courts, antitrust experts and economists, and of course investors in Rambus’ stock (a particularly loyal and attentive group), have debated the pros and cons and nuances of these lawsuits for years, and during this season (late 2008) an important and timely Rambus case is taking a run at the Supreme Court.

The FTC adminstrative action against Rambus, which bothAndy Updegrove and Ihave written about at length in the past, involves somewhat arcane issues of single-firm conduct under Section 2 of the Sherman Act.… Read the full article

"Excuse Me, What Isle is the Chutzpah In?"

by Lee Gesmer on December 11, 2008

"Excuse Me, What Isle is the Chutzpah In?"

Whole Foods, in the wake of the D.C. Circuit’s decision reinstating (in a manner of speaking) the FTC’s challenge to the Whole Foods – Wild Oats merger, has filed a most unusual lawsuit in the federal district court in the District of Columbia. Whole Foods is seeking to terminate the FTC’s administrative proceedings investigating the merger. The stated grounds are violation of the Due Process Clause and the Administrative Procedure Act (the APA).

Here is a link to the complaint (scribd.com).

This lawsuit is unusual, to say the least. The essence of Whole Foods complaint seems to be that the FTC has prejudged the case and set an unreasonably aggressive discovery schedule. I’m not aware of any grounds for this legal theory at this stage of an administrative proceeding, but I’m sure that Whole Foods’ lawyers have done their homework, and that these claims have some legal merit. Stay tuned.… Read the full article

The FTC’s decision to seek Supreme Court review in this case was widely expected, but nevertheless, it’s interesting to see that the FTC in fact did what many antitrust practitioners hoped it would do. For background on this matter, see this posting from May of this year, which discusses the background of this case in some detail. Additional posts discussing various aspects of Rambus are here, here, here and here. The D.C. Circuit decision that is the subject of the appeal is here.

Not surprisingly, the FTC’s petition for certiorari argues that standard-setting is a ubiquitous and important economic activity, and that the D.C. Circuit’s decision leaves aspects of that process in legal limbo, due to a conflict with another circuit and a misreading of Supreme Court precedent. The FTC also suggests that this case is an opportunity for the Supreme Court to address the thorny issues of causation and competitive harm under Section 2 of the Sherman Act.… Read the full article

OK, OK, this is not my blog post title. It’s the title of a post by Professor D. Daniel Sokol over at the Antitrust & Competition Law Policy Blog. He provides ten reasons in support of this statement, but undermines his argument (which I hope is at least a bit facetious), by stating that tax law is second. (Not, not, not.)

Of course, he shows what a nerd (wonk?) he is by not only listing the ten reasons from 1 to 10 (rather than in reverse, à la David Letterman), but failing to inject even the slightest bit of humor into his post. Antitrust lawyers aren’t known for their sense of humor or for humility.

As an antitrust aficionado myself, I am inclined to agree with him. I certainly did when I was in law school.… Read the full article