Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission Sign Antitrust Cooperation Agreement with Chile
Assistant Attorney General Christine Varney, along with Federal Trade Commission Chairman Jon Leibowitz and Chile’s National Economic Prosecutor Felipe Irarrázabal, signed an antitrust cooperation agreement that will enable the antitrust agencies in the two countries to improve their law enforcement relationship. The new agreement contains provisions for antitrust enforcement cooperation and coordination, conflict avoidance and consultations with respect to enforcement actions and technical cooperation, and is subject to effective confidentiality protections.
March 31, 2011
Department of Justice, Federal Trade Commission Seek Public Comment on Proposed Statement of Antitrust Enforcement Regarding Accountable Care Organizations
The Division and the Federal Trade Commission issued a joint statement about how the agencies will enforce U.S. antitrust laws in regard to new Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs)—groups of health care providers that will collaborate under the new Affordable Care Act of 2010 to improve health care quality and reduce costs. The joint proposed policy statement solicits public comment on the antitrust agencies’ proposed guidance to ensure that newly formed ACOs can innovate to serve Medicare beneficiaries and patients with private health insurance, without raising competitive concerns. The proposed policy statement would create an antitrust “safety zone” for certain ACOs and establish an expedited antitrust review process for others.
In the press release, Assistant Attorney General Christine Varney said: “Providing Americans with quality health care at affordable prices has been and will continue to be a priority for this administration, and the intergovernmental effort on providing guidance to ACOs enhances these goals. The Antitrust Division supports innovative, collaborative, and cost saving efforts—that comply with the antitrust laws—to improve health care and reduce costs to all Americans.”
March 31, 2011
March 31, 2011
Justice Department Reaches Settlement with Dean Foods Company
The Division reached a settlement with Dean Foods Company that requires Dean to divest a significant milk processing plant in Waukesha, Wisconsin, and related assets that it acquired from the Foremost Farms USA Cooperative, including the Golden Guernsey brand name. The proposed settlement also requires that Dean notify the Division before it makes any future acquisition of milk processing plants for which the purchase price is more than $3 million. The Division said that the divestitures and settlement terms will restore competition in the sale of milk to schools, grocery stores, convenience stories, and other retailers in Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin. State Attorneys General from Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin joined in the department’s settlement.
March 29, 2011
Justice Department Allows Comcast-NBCU Joint Venture to Proceed with Conditions
The Division reached a settlement with Comcast Corp. and General Electric Co.’s subsidiary NBC Universal Inc. (NBCU) that allows their joint venture to proceed conditioned on the parties’ agreement to license programming to online competitors to Comcast’s cable TV services, subject themselves to antiretaliation provisions, and adhere to Open Internet requirements. The department said that the proposed settlement will preserve new content distribution models that offer more products and greater innovation and have the potential to provide consumers access to their favorite programming on a variety of devices in a wide selection of packages.
January 18, 2011
January 18, 2011
Justice Department Investigates Price Fixing in the LCD Industry
More than $890 million in criminal fines have been obtained to date, and 22 executives and eight companies have been charged in the department’s ongoing investigation into price fixing in the liquid crystal display (LCD) industry.
January 13, 2011
October 27, 2010
October 14, 2010
August 4, 2010
August 4, 2010
July 28, 2010
June 29, 2010
June 10, 2010
April 30, 2010
December 9, 2009
Justice Department Requires L.B. Foster Co. Divestiture
The Division reached a settlement that required L.B. Foster Company to divest a West Virginia plant used in the development, manufacture, and sale of certain railroad joints to Koppers Inc. in order to proceed with Foster’s acquisition of Portec Rail Products Inc. Without the divestiture, the department said the acquisition would lead to higher prices, lower quality, less customer service, and less innovation.
December 14, 2010
Former CEO of the Morgan Crucible Co. Sentenced to Serve 18 Months in Prison for Role in Conspiracy to Obstruct Justice
Ian Norris, the former CEO of the Morgan Crucible Co., was sentenced to serve 18 months in prison for his role in a conspiracy to obstruct a Federal Grand Jury investigation into price fixing of carbon brushes and other carbon products sold in the U.S. and elsewhere. Norris was also sentenced to pay a $25,000 criminal fine. As a result of the department’s investigation, more than $11 million in criminal fines have been obtained, and four executives and two companies have pleaded guilty or have been convicted.
December 10, 2010
Department of Justice and USDA Hold Five Workshops on Competition Issues in the Agriculture Industry
In 2010, the Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Agriculture held five joint public workshops to explore competition issues affecting the agricultural sector in the 21st century and the appropriate role for antitrust and regulatory enforcement in that industry. Approximately 4,000 people attended the workshops, and more than 15,000 comments from farmers, consumers, academics, elected officials, and industry organizations were submitted.
On March 12, more than 750 people attended the workshop in Iowa, which focused on issues facing crop farmers. On May 21, about 450 people attended the poultry workshop in Alabama. On June 25, approximately 650 people attended the dairy workshop in Wisconsin. On Aug. 27, more than 1,700 people attended the livestock workshop in Colorado. On Dec. 8, about 450 people attended the margins workshop in Washington, D.C.
Full transcripts and video of the workshops are available on the Division’s agriculture workshop page.
December 8, 2010
December 3, 2010
August 20, 2010
June 21, 2010
May 14, 2010
March 12, 2010
March 12, 2010
March 10, 2010
February 23, 2010
December 8, 2010
Joint DOJ and USDA Agriculture Workshops: Concluding Remarks - Remarks as Prepared by Assistant Attorney General Christine Varney for the Final Public Workshop Exploring Competition Issues in Agriculture
June 25, 2010
March 12, 2010
A Shared Vision for American Agricultural Markets - Remarks as Prepared by Assistant Attorney General Christine Varney for the Opening of the Department of Justice and Department of Agriculture Joint Workshops
Bank of America Agrees to Pay $137.3 Million in Restitution to Federal and State Agencies
Bank of America entities agreed to pay a total of $137.3 million in restitution to Federal and state agencies for its participation in a conspiracy to rig bids in the municipal bond derivatives market and as a condition of its admission into the Justice Department’s Antitrust Corporate Leniency Program. The department’s ongoing investigation into the municipal bond derivatives industry has resulted in charges against 17 individuals and one corporate entity (CDR Financial Products). To date, eight individuals have pleaded guilty and nine individuals have been indicted.
December 7, 2010
Justice Department Investigates Price Fixing in the Air Transportation Industry
A total of 21 airlines and 19 executives have been charged in the department’s ongoing investigation into price fixing in the air transportation industry. To date, more than $1.8 billion in criminal fines have been imposed and four executives have been sentenced to serve prison time. Charges are pending against the remaining 15 executives.
November 30, 2010
November 16, 2010
November 1, 2010
October 28, 2010
September 27, 2010
September 21, 2010
September 2, 2010
July 30, 2010
Justice Department Requires GrafTech International to Make Key Changes to Supply Contracts
The Division reached a settlement that required GrafTech International Ltd. to make significant modifications to its supply agreement with ConocoPhillips Company, along with reporting and firewall obligations, in order to proceed with its proposed acquisition of Seadrift Coke LP. The modifications include removal of the audit rights and most favored nation pricing from GrafTech’s supply agreement with Conoco. The department said that requiring GrafTech to remove certain provisions from the GrafTech-Conoco supply agreement along with providing reports on demand and capacity utilization and implementing firewalls removes the ability and incentive for GrafTech and Conoco to coordinate on price and output post-acquisition.
November 29, 2010
Justice Department Files Antitrust Lawsuit Against Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan
The Division filed a civil lawsuit against Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan (BCBSM) alleging that most favored nation (MFN) clauses of its agreements with hospitals raise hospital prices, prevent other insurers from entering the marketplace, and discourage discounts. According to the complaint, BCBSM has used MFNs or similar clauses in its contracts with at least 70 of Michigan’s 131 general acute care hospitals, including many major hospitals in the state.
October 18, 2010
Justice Department Sues American Express, MasterCard, and Visa to Eliminate Rules Restricting Price Competition
The Division filed a civil lawsuit against American Express, MasterCard, and Visa challenging rules that prevent merchants from offering consumers discounts, rewards, and information about card costs, ultimately resulting in consumers paying more for their purchases and increasing merchants’ costs of doing business. At the same time, the Division reached a settlement with Visa and MasterCard that would require the two companies to allow merchants to offer discounts, incentives, and information to consumers to encourage the use of payment methods that are less costly.
October 4, 2010
October 4, 2010
Panasonic Corp. and Whirlpool Corp. Subsidiary Agree to Plead Guilty for Role in Price-Fixing Conspiracy
Panasonic Corporation and a Whirlpool Corporation subsidiary, Embraco North America Inc., agreed to plead guilty and to pay $140.9 million in criminal fines for their role in an international conspiracy to fix the prices of refrigerant compressors used in refrigerators and freezers in homes and businesses and sold in the U.S. and elsewhere between 2004 and 2007.
September 30, 2010
Six International Freight Forwarding Companies Agree to Plead Guilty to Criminal Price-Fixing Charges
Six international freight forwarders agreed to plead guilty and to pay $50.27 million in criminal fines for their roles in several conspiracies to fix a variety of fees and charges in connection with the provision of freight forwarding services for international air cargo shipments between 2002 and 2007.
September 30, 2010
Justice Department Requires Six High Tech Companies to Stop Entering into Anticompetitive Employee Solicitation Agreements
The Division reached a settlement with six high tech companies (Adobe Systems, Apple, Google, Intel, Intuit, and Pixar) that prevents them from entering into anticompetitive employee solicitation agreements. The department said that the agreements eliminated a significant form of competition to attract highly skilled employees, and overall diminished competition to the detriment of affected employees who were likely deprived of competitively important information as well as access to better job opportunities. On Dec. 21, 2010, the Division also reached a settlement with Lucasfilm that prevents it from entering into anticompetitive employee solicitation agreements.
September 24, 2010
United Airlines Inc. and Continental Airlines Inc. Transfer Assets to Southwest Airlines in Response to Department of Justice’s Antitrust Concerns
In light of the agreement by United Airlines Inc. and Continental Airlines Inc. to transfer takeoff and landing rights (slots) and other assets at Newark Liberty Airport to Southwest Airlines Co., the Division closed its investigation into the proposed merger between United and Continental. After a thorough investigation, the Division concluded that the transfer of slots and other assets at Newark Airport to Southwest, a low-cost carrier that currently has only limited service in the New York metropolitan area and no Newark service, resolves the department’s principal competition concerns and will likely significantly benefit consumers on overlap routes as well as on many other routes. The slot transfer is through a lease that permanently conveys to Southwest all of Continental’s rights in the assets, in compliance with FAA rules.
August 27, 2010
Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission Issue Revised Horizontal Merger Guidelines
The Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued revised Horizontal Merger Guidelines that outline how the Federal antitrust agencies evaluate the likely competitive impact of mergers and whether those mergers comply with U.S. antitrust law. These changes mark the first major revision of the merger guidelines in 18 years, and will give businesses a better understanding of how the agencies evaluate proposed mergers. The agencies jointly announced the project in September 2009, followed by a series of workshops over the course of the winter.
August 19, 2010
Justice Department Requires Amcor Ltd. Divestiture
The Division reached a settlement that required Amcor Ltd. to divest its North Carolina plant used in the development, production, and sale of certain bags used for medical purposes in order to proceed with its acquisition of the Alcan Packaging Medical Flexibles business from Rio Tinto plc. Without the divestiture, the department said that the acquisition would lead to higher prices, lower quality, less favorable supply-chain options, reduced technical support, and less innovation in the already highly concentrated U.S. market for vented bags for medical use.
June 10, 2010
Idaho Orthopedists Charged with Engaging in Group Boycotts and Denying Medical Care to Injured Workers
The Division reached a settlement with the Idaho Orthopaedic Society and five orthopedists that prohibited them from conspiring with competing physicians in the Boise, Idaho, area to deny medical care to injured workers and to engage in group boycotts to obtain higher fees. The department said that the defendants and other orthopedists conspired to gain more favorable fees and other contractual terms by agreeing to coordinate their actions, including denying medical care to injured workers and threatening to withdraw from healthcare plans offered by Blue Cross of Idaho between 2006 and 2008, thereby causing the state of Idaho and other healthcare consumers to pay higher fees for orthopedic services.
May 28, 2010
Department of Justice, Federal Trade Commission, and U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Hold Workshop on Promoting Innovation
The Department of Justice, the Federal Trade Commission, and U.S. Patent and Trademark Office held a joint public workshop on the intersection of patent policy and competition policy and its implications for promoting innovation. The workshop addressed ways in which careful calibration and balancing of patent policy and competition policy could best promote incentives to innovate. The panels addressed the following topics: challenges posed by the patent backlog to the competitive strategies of patent applicants and innovators, the impact of the Supreme Court’s 2006 opinion in eBay Inc. v. MercExchange LLC, and the role of patents in connection with industry standards.
A transcript of the workshop is available on the PTO Web site.
May 26, 2010
May 26, 2010
Promoting Innovation Through Patent and Antitrust Law and Policy - Remarks as Prepared by Assistant Attorney General Christine Varney for the Joint Workshop on the Intersection of Patent Policy and Competition Policy
Justice Department Requires Divestitures in AMC’s Acquisition of Kerasotes Theatres
The Division required AMC Entertainment Group Inc. to divest movie theater assets in Chicago, Denver, and Indianapolis in order to proceed with its proposed acquisition of most of the theaters operated by Kerasotes Showplace Theatres. In addition, AMC must inform the Division if it proposes to acquire movie theater assets in those markets in the next ten years. The department said that the transaction, as originally proposed, would likely substantially lessen competition among movie theaters that show first-run, commercial movies in the Chicago, Denver, and Indianapolis metropolitan areas, resulting in higher ticket prices and decreased quality viewing experience for moviegoers.
May 21, 2010
Justice Department Requires Divestitures in Baker Hughes Inc.’s Merger with BJ Services Company
The Division reached a settlement that required Baker Hughes Inc. and BJ Services Company to divest two specially equipped vessels and other assets in order to proceed with their proposed merger. The proposed settlement also provides the purchaser of the divestiture package with an expansive right to hire personnel from both Baker Hughes and BJ Services. The department said that the transaction as originally proposed would combine two of only four companies that provide specialized pumping services, called stimulation services, necessary for the production of oil and gas from wells in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico. Without the divestitures, the department said the transaction would lead to higher prices and a reduction in service quality.
April 27, 2010