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

Category Archives: Antitrust

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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

Rental Properties Not Exempt From Price Gouging Laws

While PPE, toilet paper, and groceries make price gouging headlines, consumer goods are not the only goods covered by price gouging laws in many states. Less publicized, but equally important, lodging or housing may be found on lists of products covered by many price gouging statutes. A recent case in California offers a glimpse. In … Continue Reading

How to Freeze a Case: Defending a Price Gouging Suit after the Winter Storms

As Texas and other southern states thaw from a frigid winter storm, companies doing business in these states should assess and take steps to minimize the risk of a price gouging claims. As suits are filed in the wake of the storms, companies should prepare now to defend such claims, whether from state attorneys general … Continue Reading

The Future of the FTC, Part II

A previous blog post discussed FTC Chairwoman Slaughter’s first priority as the newly designated chairwoman – the COVID-19 pandemic. The FTC’s second priority, racial equity, can be broken down into two sub issues. First, the FTC plans to investigate biased and discriminatory algorithms that target vulnerable communities. As the FTC acknowledges, the analysis of data … Continue Reading

CLERA or Murkier: Proposed Antitrust Legislation Raises Questions

The Sherman Act was passed in 1890. The Clayton Act in 1914. And they have hardly changed since. Last month, Senator Amy Klobuchar, the new chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights, proposed an overhaul of the antitrust laws: CLERA, the Competition and Antitrust Law Enforcement Reform Act.  … Continue Reading

Nationwide Deep Freeze Leads to Spike in Natural Gas Prices

In the wake of the deep freeze that recently swept the nation, natural gas has taken the forefront among a slew of price gouging allegations. Last week’s winter storms caused natural gas spot market prices to spike, with some reporting up to a 100% percent increase. Reports also surfaced of spot prices for wholesale electricity … Continue Reading

The Future of the FTC, Part I

On January 21, 2021, President Biden designated Federal Trade Commission (the “FTC”) Commissioner Rebecca Kelly Slaughter as acting chair of the FTC. Soon thereafter in one of her first speeches in her new role, Chairwoman Slaughter announced two substantive areas of priority for the FTC – the COVID-19 pandemic and racial equity. Read the full … Continue Reading

DPA Update: Biden Administration Brings Renewed Focus to Defense Production Act

As part of the federal government’s efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, President Biden plans to “fully use” the Defense Production Act (the “DPA”) to compel production of medical and protective equipment, and ensure adequate supplies and distribution of vaccines. On January 21, 2021, the White House released its National Strategy for the COVID-19 Response … Continue Reading

Price Gouging Settlements Around the Country: Non-Compliance May Cost You

As companies continue to examine their pricing in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, state attorneys general and private plaintiffs continue to bring suits under state price gouging laws. The complaints include requests for a range of remedies, including injunctions, disgorgement, restitution, fines, or other financial penalties. With the majority of price gouging laws having … Continue Reading

Are Long-Term Pricing Controls Here to Stay? Three Reasons the Optimists Might Be Right

The gravity of the pandemic is palpable, and seemingly constant news about it is hard to escape, with recent reports including updates on the availability of vaccines, the changing scope of various stay-at-home orders, and the perceived risks of new COVID-19 variants.  But there will come a time—perhaps sooner than the pessimists predict—when this will … Continue Reading

Price Gouging Laws: Can Promotional Pricing Become Your New Price?

Businesses regularly engage in promotional pricing and discounts as a sales strategy to attract customers.  However, what happens if a business enacted a promotional price right before the pandemic struck and price gouging laws were triggered?  Are those businesses stuck with those promotional prices until states of emergency come to an end and price gouging … Continue Reading

Are Long-Term Pricing Controls Here to Stay? Three Reasons the Pessimists Might Be Right

In some ways, it feels like the country is moving into another phase of how we experience the COVID-19 pandemic. With two vaccines in distribution, and more vaccine approvals possible, the pandemic could very well be effectively managed much sooner than experts initially feared. Given the light the end of the tunnel, it is worth … Continue Reading

Idaho Attorney General Pumps Brakes on Gas Sales

On November 18, 2020 the Idaho Attorney General entered into a settlement agreement with three gasoline retailers following an investigation into alleged price gouging. The settlement agreement, which focuses largely on the unique restitution system it creates, discloses that the allegations in the case stemmed from the companies’ motor fuel prices following Idaho’s declaration of … Continue Reading

Costs of COVID-19 Vaccines: What We Do and Don’t Yet Know

The roll-out of vaccine approvals has led to some confusion over what charges consumers might be asked to cover. This echoes the confusion previously discussed with respect to COVID-19 diagnostic and antibody test pricing. But consumers, providers, and others that will have any involvement with vaccine production, distribution, or administration should be aware that the Coronavirus … Continue Reading
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