Minding Your Business

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

Category Archives: Antitrust

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Clearance to Reduce Capacity May Not Be Clearance to Raise Prices: Can Business Review Letters Impact Price Gouging Compliance?

In response to the current pandemic, antitrust enforcers at the Department of Justice have been issuing business review letters at record pace. One of these business review letters addressed an inquiry from the pork industry about reducing supply based on the COVID pandemic disruption. This raises the question as to whether the DOJ letter about antitrust … Continue Reading

When Do Price Gouging Laws Expire?

States around the country have activated their price gouging statutes due to the COVID 19 pandemic.  These temporary restrictions typically go into effect upon the declaration of a local, state or national emergency.  However, even though all the emergency declaration began at roughly the same time (the first week of March 2020), they likely will … Continue Reading

Pricing in an Emergency: Where Price Gouging Meets Antitrust

As state investigators across the country launch price gouging investigations, one thing is becoming clear – state price gouging investigations can look a lot like antitrust investigations. Price gouging enforcement is at an all-time high, and more and more it is being combined with antitrust and unfair trade practice investigations. This overlap can be bad … Continue Reading

No Country for Price Gouging: States Can Punish Price Gouging Without Price Gouging-Specific Laws

Though much attention has been paid to state price gouging laws, several states without price gouging laws have nevertheless been active enforcers. Governors in many of these states have issued executive orders empowering their enforcers to target price gouging. Other states have repurposed existing laws to target price gouging. Price gouging in these states may … Continue Reading

Can You Sue for Price Gouging?

State Attorneys General are not the only ones enforcing price gouging laws in the current pandemic. Many states also provide a private right of action for victims of price gouging. Depending on the state, private litigants may seek injunctions, civil penalties, or even damages under state price gouging statutes and consumer protection laws. These remedies, … Continue Reading

State Price Gouging Laws: A Coast-to-Coast Reference Guide

Proskauer’s antitrust practice group has developed a State Price Gouging Laws: A Coast-to-Coast Reference Guide to help your business manage price gouging compliance during the COVID-19 emergency. State price gouging measures cast a wide and varied range of coverage, such that compliance at the national level means knowing each state’s covered products and services, permitted … Continue Reading

A Spartan Approach to Price Gouging in Michigan

Price gouging complaints around the country have been skyrocketing and Michigan is no exception. Between March 5, 2019, and April 14, 2019, Michigan had 80 price gouging complaints. During the same period in 2020, Michigan received 3,541 complaints – an increase of 4,326 percent. Michigan has been under a state of emergency since March 10, … Continue Reading

Price Gouging Takedowns – The Online Platforms Have a Say

Over the past month, state enforcers have declared a war on price gouging, but some of the most effective enforcers have not been the states. Online platforms and other large retailers have taken extraordinary steps to restrict price gouging, and their monitoring has already led to hundreds of thousands of items pulled from e-commerce websites. … Continue Reading

Price Gouging Laws and Covid-19: What Supply Chain Businesses Should Know

Due to the unprecedented length of the current COVID-19 emergency, price gouging laws that once focused solely on retail prices, now are being applied to participants throughout the entire supply chain. At the beginning of the COVID-19 emergency, state enforcers focused on increases in retail prices to consumers. However, enforcers now are opening investigations and taking enforcement … Continue Reading

Don’t Mess With Texas: Price Gouging in the Lone Star State

When it comes to price gouging in the Lone Star State, Attorney General Ken Paxton is sending a message: don’t mess with Texas. On March 26, 2020, AG Paxton accused Auctions Unlimited, a Texas auctioneer, of price gouging disinfectant wipes, hand soaps, and 750,000 N95 respirator masks. Bidding for just 16 N95 respirator masks went … Continue Reading

A New Frontier or Back to Basics? FTC Issues New Guidance on Artificial Intelligence Technology

In the latest piece to come out of the FTC’s new focus on emerging technologies, the FTC Bureau of Consumer Protection issued new guidance on the use of artificial intelligence (“AI”) and algorithms. The guidance follows up on a 2018 hearing where the FTC explored AI, algorithms, and predicative analysis. As the FTC recognizes, these … Continue Reading

Florida Man Fined For… Price Gouging?

In the past month, Florida’s Attorney General has received thousands of complaints about price gouging across the state.  As a result, Florida is taking action.  Attorney General Ashley Moody has issued dozens of subpoenas to third-party sellers on Amazon and secured thousands in refunds for consumers.  The AG’s office has also been working with online … Continue Reading

The House Targets Price Gouging, Again

Even though states are leading the way on price gouging enforcement, recent action in Congress may lead to overlapping federal government enforcement.  Recent Congressional letters, statements, and proposed bills show a strong appetite for action on price gouging.  House Democrats tried but failed to add price gouging language to the coronavirus relief package in March.  … Continue Reading

$79.99 For Hand Sanitizer? New York AG Says Not While In My Hands

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, New York Attorney General Letitia James has stated her office will be aggressive in prosecuting price gouging. On March 10, AG James stated, “we will not tolerate schemes or frauds designed to turn large profits by exploiting people’s health concerns.” The NY Office of Attorney General (“OAG”) is tasked with enforcing … Continue Reading

California’s Crackdown on the Price Gouging Gold Rush

In early March, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra issued a consumer alert on price gouging. Two weeks later, police in San Diego arrested eight people for price gouging. The same week, investigations by Sacramento authorities prompted new warnings from local authorities. Since then, both the Governor and Attorney General have indicated price gouging will remain … Continue Reading

United Kingdom’s CMA Issues Guidance to Businesses on Co-Operation During the Crisis

As we reported here, the UK government announced that, as part of a package of measures to allow UK grocery supermarkets to work together to feed the nation during the COVID-19 crisis, certain provisions of UK competition law will be relaxed temporarily for the domestic food sector. The CMA has now published a document setting … Continue Reading

Flexibility within a Crisis: The European Competition Network’s Response to COVID-19

On March 23, 2020, the European Commission announced that all competition authorities in the European Competition Network (ECN) (the Commission, the European Surveillance Authority, and the national competition authorities of each EU/EEA Member State) issued a joint statement on how to apply the European competition rules during the COVID-19 crisis.… Continue Reading

Antitrust Enforcers Target Coronavirus-related Violations

As businesses across the globe grapple with the changing realities presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. and international antitrust enforcers have warned that business should continue to mind the antitrust laws. Global enforcers are also focusing on the role competition laws play as industries – both essential and hard-hit – grapple with the new environment.… Continue Reading

Takeaways from Recent Remarks on the DOJ Antitrust Leniency Program

In February 2020, at the 13th International Cartel Workshop, Deputy Assistant Attorney General (DAAG) Powers provided some insight as to the DOJ’s current views about the Antitrust Division’s Leniency Program. The headline: no major changes; but there are a few interesting takeaways, which we offer below.… Continue Reading

Attacking Class Certification on a Motion to Dismiss? A Recent Decision Says There is a Way

Plaintiffs often try to define the broadest possible class at the outset of a case on the belief that the scope of the class can be refined on class certification after discovery has been completed. For this strategy to work, however, plaintiffs must get past the pleading stage. Historically, this has not been too difficult … Continue Reading

DOJ Announces First Settlement Under Trump Administration Regarding “No-Poach” Agreement

On April 3, 2018, the Antitrust Division of the U.S Department of Justice (“DOJ”) announced that it had reached a settlement in a matter involving a “no-poaching” agreement between employers—the first such enforcement action under the Trump Administration.  The DOJ’s pursuit of the matter reflects the Department’s continuing scrutiny of employment and hiring agreements between … Continue Reading

FTC Announces 2018 Thresholds Under HSR Act and Clayton Act

On January 26, 2018, the Federal Trade Commission announced revisions to HSR Act and Clayton Act Section 8 thresholds, which are indexed annually to account for inflation. We have identified the adjustments that are likely to be the most relevant to our clients, and reiterate several important practice tips. The Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976, commonly … Continue Reading

Does What Happens Outside the U.S. Stay Outside the U.S.?

As the economy continues to globalize, so too does the reach of antitrust law. Two recent cases illustrate the interaction between international trade and U.S. antitrust law: Biocad v. F. Hoffman-La-Roche Ltd. and In re Capacitors Antitrust Litigation. These cases invoke the Foreign Trade Antitrust Improvement Act, which creates exceptions to the jurisdiction limiting language … Continue Reading

The Eighth Circuit Reignites Claims of Continuing Conduct in Propane Tank Conspiracy

A split Eighth Circuit recently reversed a prior panel ruling and reignited antitrust claims against distributors of pre-filled propane tanks. The 5-4 majority cited the 1997 Supreme Court decision Klehr v. A.O. Smith Corp. to rule that for allegations of a price-fixing conspiracy under the Sherman Antitrust Act, each sale at an artificially inflated price … Continue Reading
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