IPWatchdog.com is in the process of transitioning to a newer version of our website. Please be patient with us while we work out all the kinks.

Posts Tagged: "sherman act"

D.C. Court Says FTC’s Antitrust Claim Against Facebook Can Proceed

On Tuesday, January 11, the United States District Court for the District of Columbia denied Facebook’s motion to dismiss a complaint brought against it by the U.S.  Federal Trade Commission (FTC), holding that the FTC had stated a plausible claim for relief under Section 2 of the Sherman Act. The FTC filed a complaint on December 9, 2020, asserting one count of monopoly maintenance under Section 2 of the Sherman Act. Facebook moved to dismiss both this case, and a related state case. The district court dismissed the Commission’s complaint but granted the FTC the opportunity to amend. Following a leadership change from when the complaint was initially filed, the FTC filed an amended complaint in August of 2021. L

Patent Infringement, Antitrust, and the Discovery Rule

On September 20, 2021, Judge John Robert Blakey in the Northern District of Illinois issued an opinion in a Walker Process patent fraud antitrust case denying defendants’ motion for summary judgment on their statute of limitations defense. TCS John Huxley America, Inc. v. Scientific Games Corp., No. 1:19-cv-1846, 2021 WL 4264403 (N.D. Ill. Sept. 20, 2021). The opinion established important principles regarding application of the statute of limitations to the “discovery rule” in a Walker Process antitrust case. The author’s firm, Freeborn & Peters, was one of the firms representing the plaintiffs. The plaintiffs had sued Scientific Games Corp. alleging a violation of Section 2 of the Sherman Act. The complaint alleged that Scientific Games, through its acquired entity, SHFL Entertainment, brought patent infringement litigation in 2009 and 2012 based on fraudulently obtained patents for automatic card shufflers used in licensed casinos.

Antitrust Suit Filed by 36 State AGs Targets Google Anticompetitive Practices on Android App Distribution

Last week, the attorneys general of 36 U.S. states and the District of Columbia filed a lawsuit in the Northern District of California against internet services and mobile operating system (OS) provider Google. The complaint lists various causes of action under the Sherman Antitrust Act and a number of state antitrust laws that have allegedly been violated by Google’s practices in leveraging its monopoly power in the mobile OS sector to maximize its revenues on app purchases through the Google Play Store through suppression of competing app platforms and charging exorbitant fees from app developers.

Supreme Court to NCAA: You are Not Immune from Antitrust Laws

On June 21, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a unanimous ruling in National Collegiate Athletic Association v. Alston (Alston) in which the nation’s highest court affirmed an injunction entered by the Northern District of California prohibiting the NCAA from restricting education-related benefits that member schools can extend to student-athletes. Consolidated by the Supreme Court last December with related proceedings in American Athletic Conference v. Alston, this decision brings a close to the latest chapter in the ongoing skirmish between NCAA member schools and their student-athletes seeking a larger cut of revenues earned by colleges and NCAA athletic associations.

Patent Masters™ Agree on Recommendations to Curb Harm to SEPs and Overreach of Antitrust Law

Standard Setting Organizations (SSOs) exist to identify and select the best innovations entire industries will build upon. Those contributing patented technologies are asked to provide fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory assurances. In essence, patent owners contributing technologies are committing to provide access to their Standard Essential Patents (SEPs). Whether one thinks it is good or bad, it is an inescapable truth that over the last decade the patent system in the United States has become weakened. The weakened patent system, and a patent grant the Supreme Court now considers to be a “government franchise,” has shifted leverage from patent owners to technology implementers. Amidst this uncertainty, in September IPWatchdog.com held a two-day symposium to discuss the state of standard essential patents in the United States. During this symposium, overwhelming consensus was achieved by the Patent Masters™ faculty and symposium attendees on a variety of principles and recommendations.

FTC Commissioner Christine Wilson Tells Patent Masters Attendees FTC v. Qualcomm Decision ‘Scares Me’

Commissioner Christine Wilson of the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) addressed the IPWatchdog Patent Masters Symposium on Tuesday, September 10, emphasizing three main points in her keynote: that Judge Lucy Koh’s decision in FTC v. Qualcomm was flawed, that antitrust analyses should be more focused on dynamic, rather than static effects, and that, despite the latter point, antitrust authorities routinely try and fail to integrate dynamic effects into antitrust law. She was clear up front that her views did not necessarily match those of her fellow commissioners. First, Wilson reiterated the ideas expressed in her May 28 op-ed for the Wall Street Journal, which she summarized by saying that U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California Judge Lucy Koh’s opinion in the FTC v. Qualcomm case “creates bad law and bad policy.” Wilson explained that Koh in her lengthy analysis took the opportunity to “radically expand a company’s legal obligation to help its competitors” by reviving a “discredited” 1985 Supreme Court case, Aspen Skiing Co. v. Aspen Highlands Skiing Corp. “My opposition to the court’s opinion does not stem from any desire to help or protect Qualcomm,” Wilson said. “I am focused on applying and preserving sound antitrust principles and this decision scares me.”

Antitrust Experts Characterize FTC v. Qualcomm Decision as Mangling of Sherman Act’s Section 2

Judge Douglas Ginsburg of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, Professor Joshua Wright, and attorney Lindsey Edwards of Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, have condemned the decision in FTC v. Qualcomm Inc. (N.D. Cal. May 21, 2019) in the George Mason University Law & Economics Research Paper Series. In their paper, “Section 2 Mangled: FTC v. Qualcomm on the Duty to Deal, Price Squeezes, and Exclusive Dealing,” the authors characterize the decision as being a part of “the misguided trend of using antitrust law to intervene in contract disputes between sophisticated parties negotiating over intellectual property rights.”

District Court Denies FRAND Breach of Contract and Sherman Act Summary Judgment Motions by ASUS and InterDigital

In a decision published in redacted form on January 29, Judge Beth Labson Freeman of the Northern District of California denied ASUSTek Computer Inc.’s and ASUS Computer International’s (collectively, ASUS’s) motion for summary judgment that InterDigital, Inc.’s (InterDigital’s) standard essential patent (SEP) licensing practices breached its FRAND obligations. The court also granted-in-part and denied-in-part InterDigital’s motion for summary judgment, rejecting a request to dismiss ASUS’s Sherman Antitrust Act claim but granting summary judgment as to issues relating to judicial and promissory estoppel and as to a California competition law claim. ASUS Computer Int’l v. InterDigital, Inc., Case No. 5:15-cv-01716-BLF, ECF No. 367 (N.D. Cal. Jan. 29, 2018). The court’s ruling comes as the case is progressing toward a jury trial, presently scheduled for May 2019. Several of the issues addressed are fact-specific to the case, but the rulings relating to breach of contract, most favorable licensees, and the Sherman Act are of particular interest for SEP licensing and illustrate how the legal landscape continues to evolve.

Ribbon Communications Decries ‘Baseless Attacks’ on IP Rights After Metaswitch Networks Files Antitrust Suit

Secure cloud communications provider Ribbon Communications announced it would continue to enforce its intellectual property rights in the face of what it called “baseless attacks” by its UK-based cloud competitor Metaswitch Networks. Ribbon decried a recent antitrust lawsuit filed against it by Metaswitch and charged its competitor with continuing to infringe upon Ribbon’s patent claims despite earlier jury verdicts in district court which found that Metaswitch was infringing upon those asserted claims. Ribbon Communications’ announcement follows a lawsuit filed by Metaswitch Networks on November 19th in the Southern District of New York. “It is disappointing that Metaswitch is attempting to relitigate claims that it already lost in federal court,” said Ribbon CEO Franklin “Fritz” Hobbs. “Ribbon will not be deterred by these actions, and we look forward to having Ribbon’s intellectual property rights vindicated and Metaswitch finally paying for its misappropriation of Ribbon technology.”

Code sues Honeywell at ITC and EDTX for attempting to monopolize barcode reader market

Barcode reading solutions provider Code Corporation of Salt Lake City, UT, announced that it had filed antitrust actions against engineering conglomerate Honeywell International (NYSE:HON) at both the U.S. International Trade Commission and in the Eastern District of Texas. Code, which is seeking an injunction on the importation and sale of barcode readers marketed by Honeywell for the healthcare industry, alleges that Honeywell engaged in a campaign to mislead distributors about the legitimacy of Code’s barcode reader products as part of an effort to monopolize that market.

Al Capone and Qualcomm: Why Section 5 of FTCA should not be a fallback to challenge conduct actionable under the Sherman Act

Last month, after a multi-year antitrust investigation, the United States Federal Trade Commission filed a complaint in federal district court charging Qualcomm with using anticompetitive business practices in violation of Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act. The FTC’s decision to charge Qualcomm with violating Section 5 of the FTC Act, in lieu of alleging that Qualcomm’s conduct violated the Sherman Act appears to be the tactical equivalent of the government’s 1930’s decision to pursue Capone for tax evasion… Section 5 should not be used as a fallback device to challenge conduct actionable under the Sherman Act, but where the enforcement agency is unable or unwilling to meet the evidentiary rigor required by case law under the Sherman Act.

Some Observations on the Market Reverberations of the Smart Phone Patent Wars

Commenting on the Yahoo! Inc. patent infringement lawsuit filed against Facebook in March of 2012, Mr. Cuban concludes his post by stating: “I hope Yahoo[!] is awarded $50 billion dollars. It is the only way that consumers will realize what is at stake with patent law as is. Then maybe we can get it right and further innovation and competition in this country.” These statements are from a very influential technology entrepreneur, investor and generally-recognized American business guru. Thus, it would seem that the continuous negative headlines from the smart phone patent wars are definitely giving patents a bad rap!

Bobbing for Antitrust Apples: E-book Price Fixing Challenge

So what did Apple and the other publishers do that put them on Uncle Sam’s Radar? Allegedly, they agreed among themselves to sell their e-books at the same price. This is also known as “Price Fixing” and it’s a big no-no. When companies who sell the same product agree among themselves to set the same price for that product, they could (not necessarily will) set that price as high as they wish, because there will be no place cheaper to get it. The type of price fixing alleged here – ‘horizontal’ price fixing – is considered violative of the Sherman Act regardless of the effect on the market. This means that even if the agreement didn’t actually harm the market whatsoever, it would still be considered anti-competitive.

Antitrust Law Basics: A Primer on Patent and Copyright Misuse

With copyright misuse having recently been successful in a rather high profile case I thought it would be worthwhile to revisit patent misuse and misuse concepts generally. To do that in a way that allows the casually interested reader to follow along probably requires first taking a step back away from the intellectual property centric theories to discuss some basic antitrust law concepts. This seems particularly appropriate since many of the misuse cases have a distinct antitrust flavor.

NFL Players vs. Owners: A Hail Mary of a Lawsuit

About 10 years ago, the NFLP decided that they wanted Reebok (and only Reebok) to make hats with the teams’ logos on them. American Needle, Inc., a competitor of Reebok, had been making these types of hats for the NFL for a really long time, and as a result of the NFLP’s deal with Reebok, it lost its contract with NFLP to make said hats. American Needle, Inc. did not have much of a sense of humor about this and sued the NFL under Antitrust principles. Enter American Needle v. National Football League et al. Needle is a big case because if the NFL had gotten what it asked for, the player’s union wouldn’t have been able to decertify and the players wouldn’t have been able to bring an antitrust suit.