FTC and DOJ Face Off Over Antitrust And FRAND Licensing In FTC v. Qualcomm

[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

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Copyright Infringement? Peloton Punches Back With Antitrust

[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