Minding Your Business

Proskauer’s perspective on developments and trends in commercial litigation.

Category Archives: Antitrust

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New York’s Overlapping Price Gouging Laws

On June 24, 2021, New York celebrated the lifting on most COVID-19 restrictions. Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the COVID-19 state of emergency would officially expire. With the expiration of the emergency declaration, the state of New York’s price gouging restrictions were also lifted. The New York price gouging statute provides for certain pricing restrictions “during … Continue Reading

Second Circuit Overturns FTC Antitrust Decision Against 1-800-Contacts Involving Trademark Settlement Agreements

Earlier this month, the Second Circuit overturned a decision by the Federal Trade Commission (the “FTC”) holding 1-800-Contacts violated antitrust law by entering into trademark settlement and related agreements that restricted bidding on auctions held by companies that operate search engines. 1-800 Contacts v. Federal Trade Commission. Although the Second Circuit recognized that trademark settlement … Continue Reading

Hard to Say Goodbye: States Are Slowly Lifting States of Emergency

In recent weeks many states have either started lifting pricing restrictions put in place during the COVID-19 pandemic or announced their plans to do so. Still, some state governments have indicated that they will continue to hold pricing restrictions in place as a means of protecting consumer welfare as people return to normal spending habits … Continue Reading

Illuminating Vertical Merger Challenges: FTC Challenges Illumina’s Reacquisition of a Nascent Company it Founded

After a bit of hiatus on aggressively challenging vertical mergers, regulators both here in the United States and abroad have resumed initiated actions to challenge vertical mergers. Traditionally a difficult lift for the FTC, vertical vergers involve companies above and below each other in the supply chain. Instead of directly competing, an upstream company acquires … Continue Reading

A Note of Caution: Inflation, Price Increases, and the Lingering States of Emergencies

Many companies have increased prices in recent months.  Reportedly, across the economy, prices “rose by 5 percent in May compared with a year ago.” Restaurants are raising prices to cover the cost of increases in wages in a tight labor market.  The prices of used and rental cars are quickly rising, due to low inventory … Continue Reading

Antitrust Enforcers Need Merger Presumptions to Reduce Market Power?

Under the Clayton Act (15 U.S.  Code § 18), certain business acquisitions are prohibited where “the effect of such acquisition may be substantially to lessen competition, or to tend to create a monopoly.” Long-standing jurisprudence has established that merger challenges require, at the outset, a prima facie showing of the likelihood of a substantial lessoning … Continue Reading

COVID Winds Down, but States Ramp Up Price Gouging Legislation

Even as Governors lift mask mandates and sporting events welcome fans to stadiums, some states are revisiting their price gouging laws.  Recently, several states have advanced legislation to amend or create price gouging statutes.  State governments are learning from experiences during COVID-19 emergencies and some are proposing legislation to adjust the scope, definitions, and penalties … Continue Reading

Competition and Data Protection in Digital Markets: UK’s CMA-ICO Joint Statement on Competition and Data Protection Law

On May 19, 2021, the United Kingdom’s Competition and Markets Authority (“CMA”) and the Information Commissioner’s Office (“ICO”) published a joint statement setting out their shared views on the relationship between competition and data protection in the digital economy. Both authorities recognize that the digital economy has the potential to have a hugely positive impact … Continue Reading

Is the Pipeline Interruption a Price Gouging Issue?

Last week, gas stations across much of the Southeast saw shortages, demand spikes, and price increases after a cyberattack on a major gasoline pipeline. Proskauer’s price gouging team authored a Law360 article addressing the lessons learned from the past year’s emergencies — whether related to COVID-19 or natural disasters — to analyze the grounds for … Continue Reading

Amazon to Arbitrate Price Gouging Class Action, Leaving Open Questions of Platform Liability

Class actions plaintiffs and state enforcers have tried to use state price gouging laws to hold online retailers accountable for prices set by third parties.  It remains unclear, however, whether platforms will—or can, under the current legal frameworks—be held liable for price increases made by third party vendors.  One of the key cases that could … Continue Reading

Sixth Circuit Remands Price Gouging Case, Allows Kentucky AG to Resume Investigations

The Sixth Circuit issued its opinion in the Online Merchants Guild v. Cameron case on April 29, 2021, dissolving a preliminary injunction that had prevented the Kentucky Attorney General from investigating alleged violations of Kentucky’s price gouging laws, and remanding to the district court for further proceedings.… Continue Reading

Updates to Price Gouging States of Emergency

Over a year ago, states of emergency were declared across the country. Such emergency declarations are often the trigger for state pricing restrictions.  Tracking the start and end of the emergency declarations is essential for interpreting the pricing restrictions they impose. For instance, in Oklahoma, the pricing restrictions remain in place throughout the duration of … Continue Reading

The FTC’s Enforcement Power: How AMG Reshapes the Landscape

In a unanimous opinion, the U.S. Supreme Court held that Section 13(b) of the FTC Act does not authorize the Federal Trade Commission to seek monetary relief in the form of restitution or disgorgement, despite the agency’s redoubled practice of seeking such relief under the Act since 2012. The Court’s opinion significantly reshapes the FTC’s … Continue Reading

A Comedy of Errors Sinks a Local Government’s Price Gouging Case

In a case of mistaken identity and a web of conflicting testimony, a Fresno local business successfully appealed a price gouging fine.  The saga between the store and the City of Fresno offers insights in the importance of maintaining proper business records to defend potential price gouging allegations. On April 8, 2021, an Administrative Hearing … Continue Reading

DOJ Continues Price Gouging Enforcement Under the Defense Production Act

On April 2, 2021, the acting U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey released an update of her office’s efforts to prevent fraud related to the COVID-19 pandemic, noting prosecutions involving the Paycheck Protection Program, the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program, and the Unemployment Insurance programs, as well as prosecutions involving price-gouging and hoarding … Continue Reading

Price Gouging Legislation on the Horizon in States Without Laws

While the majority of states have had price gouging laws on the books since before the pandemic, widespread pandemic price gouging has led states without laws to reconsider. Some states, like Colorado, passed price gouging legislation mid-pandemic, but other states, including New Hampshire and Washington, are now playing catch up.… Continue Reading

Antitrust Enforcers Preview Incoming Spotlight on Blockchain

The tide of regulation of cryptocurrency and blockchain could be turning in the United States. Following comments by newly-confirmed Treasury Secretary (and former Federal Reserve Chair) Janet Yellen describing Bitcoin as “inefficient” and “extremely volatile,” the price of the coin dropped 10% in 24 hours. During her confirmation hearings, Yellen described cryptocurrencies as a “particular … Continue Reading

One to Watch: Constitutional Challenges to NYC’s Price Gouging Rule

On March 18, 2021, retailer Union Square Supply, Inc. filed a civil rights class action lawsuit in the Southern District of New York challenging New York City’s price gouging enforcement practices.  The complaint alleges that defendants are responsible for “the creation and maintenance of an illegal and unconstitutional penalty enforcement scheme, abuse of emergency powers, … Continue Reading

Idaho Says Pandemic Margin Boosts Are Lawful When Prices Fall

State legislatures are still continuing to enact new changes to their states’ price gouging statutes.  Some are expanding the scope of their laws, while others are tailoring the law or emergency orders in response to new issues that have arisen during the course of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Idaho took a third tack and limited limit … Continue Reading

Zillow Change to Its Platform Poses New Antitrust Questions

A major technology innovator finds itself on the defensive this week after a start-up company filed an antitrust lawsuit for alleged deceptive business practices. A tech-based online broker named Rex alleged that the National Association of Realtors (“NAR”) and Multiple Listing Services (“MLS”) operate as a cartel to control access to real estate markets, and … Continue Reading

Beyond Essential Goods and Services: Price Gouging Laws Being Applied to a Wide Range of Products

The majority of price gouging laws have been activated throughout the country for over a year now, but reports of price gouging continue, along with enforcement and lawsuits. While many are aware that price gouging restrictions apply to essential goods such as medical and emergency supplies, some covered goods are often mistakenly thought not to … Continue Reading

The End of Price Restrictions in California… Or Merely a Step Towards Normal

One year after declaring a state of emergency in California due to COVID-19, the California Governor issued a new Executive Order lifting pricing restrictions on most categories of products previously subject to California’s price gouging statute. Governor Gavin Newsom’s 2021 Order comes as states across the nation slowly reopen. This 2021 Executive Order marks a … Continue Reading

Regulators Ready, Gladiators Ready – Digital Markets to Face Greater International Scrutiny

Across the globe, an increasing number of international regulators have opened inquiries or adopted new rules and regulations to address competition law concerns about digital platforms and digital markets.  Whilst the spotlight is likely to initially fall on the conduct and business practices of large online platforms – the so-called gatekeepers – we expect international … Continue Reading

The House Judiciary Committee Takes on Big Tech

“Mark my words: Change is coming. Laws are coming.” That was the warning David Cicilline (D-RI) – the House Judiciary Antitrust, Commercial, and Administrative Law Subcommittee Chairman – gave on February 25th at the first in a series of hearings following the Subcommittee’s 16-month probe into Big Tech’s gatekeeping power. This one, titled Reviving Competition, … Continue Reading
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