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| LOWELL R. STERN |
United States Department of Justice
450 5th Street, N.W., Suite 8700
Washington, D.C. 20530
Telephone: (202) 307-0922
Facsimile: (202) 307-6283
Attorney for Plaintiff
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
CENTRAL DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA
Pursuant to Section 2(b) of the Antitrust Procedures and Penalties Act, 15 U.S.C. § 16(b)-(h) ("APPA"), plaintiff, the United States of America ("United States") moves for entry of the proposed Final Judgment filed in this civil antitrust proceeding. The proposed Final Judgment may be entered at this time without further hearing if the Court determines that entry is in the public interest. The Competitive Impact Statement ("CIS"), filed in this matter on August 20, 2009, explains why entry of the proposed Final Judgment would be in the public interest. The United States is filing simultaneously with this Motion and Memorandum a Certificate of Compliance setting forth the steps taken by the parties to comply with all applicable provisions of the APPA and certifying that the statutory waiting period has expired.
On July 14, 2008, defendant Microsemi Corporation ("Microsemi") acquired most of the assets of Semicoa. After investigating the competitive impact of that acquisition, the United States filed a civil antitrust Complaint on December 18, 2008, seeking an order compelling Microsemi to divest the Semicoa assets and other relief to restore competition. The Complaint alleges that the acquisition significantly lessened competition in the development, manufacture and sale of certain high reliability small signal transistors and ultrafast recovery rectifier diodes used in aerospace and military applications, in violation of Section 7 of the Clayton Act, 15 U.S.C. § 18, and Section 2 of the Sherman Act, 15 U.S.C. § 2. As a result of the acquisition, prices for these products did or would have increased, delivery times would have lengthened, and terms of service would have become less favorable. Pursuant to an Order to Preserve and Maintain Assets, which was entered on December 24, 2008 and modified on August 6, 2009, Microsemi may not, without written consent of the United States, dispose of the acquired assets prior to resolution of this proceeding.
Concurrent with the filing of the CIS on August 20, 2009, the United States and Microsemi filed a Stipulation Regarding Proposed Final Judgment and a proposed Final Judgment. These filings were designed to restore competition through a divestiture of the acquired assets. The proposed Final Judgment requires Microsemi to divest the Semicoa assets, thus restoring the competition that was lost as a result of the acquisition.(1)
The United States and Microsemi have stipulated that the proposed Final Judgment may be entered after compliance with the APPA. Entry of the Final Judgment would terminate this action, except that the Court would retain jurisdiction to construe, modify, or enforce the provisions of the Final Judgment and to punish violations thereof.
II. Compliance with the APPA
The APPA requires a sixty-day period for the submission of public comments on a proposed Final Judgment. See 15 U.S.C. § 16(b). In compliance with the APPA, the United States filed the CIS on August 20, 2009; published the proposed Final Judgment and CIS in the Federal Register on September 1, 2009 (see United States v. Microsemi Corp., 74 Fed. Reg. 45242); and published summaries of the terms of the proposed Final Judgment and CIS, together with directions for the submission of written comments relating to the proposed Final Judgment, in The Washington Post for seven days beginning on September 6, 2009 and ending on September 12, 2009, and in The Los Angeles Times for seven days beginning September 13, 2009 and ending September 19, 2009. The sixty-day public comment period ended on November 18, 2009, and the United States received no comments. The United States is filing a Certificate of Compliance simultaneously with this Motion and Memorandum that states that all the requirements of the APPA have been satisfied. It is now appropriate for the Court to make the public interest determination required by 15 U.S.C. § 16(e) and to enter the proposed Final Judgment.
III. Standard of Judicial Review
The Clayton Act, as amended by the APPA, requires that proposed consent judgments in antitrust cases brought by the United States be subject to a sixty-day comment period, after which the Court shall determine whether entry of the proposed Final Judgment "is in the public interest." 15 U.S.C. § 16(e)(1). In making that determination, the court, in accordance with the statute, as amended in 2004,(2) is required to consider:
15 U.S.C. § 16(e)(1)(A)-(B). In considering these statutory factors, the court's inquiry is necessarily a limited one as the government is entitled to "broad discretion to settle with the defendant within the reaches of the public interest." United States v. Microsoft Corp., 56 F.3d 1448, 1461 (D.C. Cir. 1995); see generally United States v. SBC Commc'ns, Inc., 489 F. Supp. 2d 1 (D.D.C. 2007) (assessing public interest standard under the Tunney Act).
Under the APPA a court considers, among other things, the relationship between the remedy secured and the specific allegations set forth in the government's complaint, whether the decree is sufficiently clear, whether enforcement mechanisms are sufficient, and whether the decree may positively harm third parties. See Microsoft, 56 F.3d at 1458-62. With respect to the adequacy of the relief secured by the decree, a court may not "engage in an unrestricted evaluation of what relief would best serve the public." United States v. BNS, Inc., 858 F.2d 456, 462 (9th Cir. 1988) (citing United States v. Bechtel Corp., 648 F.2d 660, 666 (9th Cir. 1981)); see also Microsoft, 56 F.3d at 1460-62. Courts have held that:
Bechtel, 648 F.2d at 666 (emphasis added) (citations omitted).(3) In making its public interest determination, a district court "must accord deference to the government's predictions about the efficacy of its remedies, and may not require that the remedies perfectly match the alleged violations." SBC Commc'ns, 489 F. Supp. 2d at 17; see also Microsoft, 56 F.3d at 1461 (noting need for courts to be "deferential to the government's predictions as to the effect of the proposed remedies"); United States v. Archer-Daniels-Midland Co., 272 F. Supp. 2d 1, 6 (D.D.C. 2003) (noting that the court should grant due respect to the prediction of the United States as to the effect of proposed remedies, its perception of the market structure, and its views of the nature of the case).
Courts have greater flexibility in approving proposed consent decrees than in crafting their own decrees following a finding of liability in a litigated matter. "[A] proposed decree must be approved even if it falls short of the remedy the court would impose on its own, as long as it falls within the range of acceptability or is 'within the reaches of public interest.'" United States v. AT&T Co., 552 F. Supp. 131, 151 (D.D.C. 1982) (citations omitted) (quoting Gillette, 406 F. Supp. at 716); see also United States v. Alcan Aluminum Ltd., 605 F. Supp. 619, 622 (W.D. Ky. 1985) (approving the consent decree even though the court would have imposed a greater remedy). To meet this standard, the United States "need only provide a factual basis for concluding that the settlements are reasonably adequate remedies for the alleged harms." SBC Commc'ns, 489 F. Supp. 2d at 17.
Moreover, the Court's role under the APPA is limited to reviewing the remedy in relationship to the violations that the United States has alleged in its Complaint, and does not authorize the Court to "construct [its] own hypothetical case and then evaluate the decree against that case." Microsoft, 56 F.3d at 1459. Because the "court's authority to review the decree depends entirely on the government's exercising its prosecutorial discretion by bringing a case in the first place," it follows that "the court is only authorized to review the decree itself," and not to "effectively redraft the complaint" to inquire into other matters that the United States did not pursue. Id. at 1459-60. Courts "cannot look beyond the complaint in making the public interest determination unless the complaint is drafted so narrowly as to make a mockery of judicial power." SBC Communications, 489 F. Supp. 2d at 15.
In its 2004 amendments, Congress made clear its intent to preserve the practical benefits of utilizing consent decrees in antitrust enforcement, adding the unambiguous instruction "[n]othing in this section shall be construed to require the court to conduct an evidentiary hearing or to require the court to permit anyone to intervene." 15 U.S.C. § 16(e)(2). This instruction explicitly writes into the statute the standard intended by the Congress that enacted the Tunney Act in 1974 , as Senator Tunney then explained: "[t]he court is nowhere compelled to go to trial or to engage in extended proceedings which might have the effect of vitiating the benefits of prompt and less costly settlement through the consent decree process." 119 Cong. Rec. 24,598 (1973) (statement of Senator Tunney). Rather, the procedure for the public interest determination is left to the discretion of the court, with the recognition that the scope of the court's "review remains sharply proscribed by precedent and the nature of Tunney Act proceedings." SBC Commc'ns, 489 F. Supp. 2d at 11.(4)
For the reasons set forth in this Motion and Memorandum and in the CIS, the Court should find that the proposed Final Judgment is in the public interest and should enter the Final Judgment without further hearings. The United States respectfully requests that the Final Judgment annexed hereto be entered as soon as possible.
Dated: January 8, 2010
CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE
I HEREBY CERTIFY that on the 8th day of January, 2010, I will electronically file the foregoing with the Clerk of Court using the CM/ECF system, which will then send a notification of such filing (NEF) to the following:
Brett J. Williamson
Michael E. Antalics
1. Microsemi completed the divestiture, in compliance with the terms of the proposed Final Judgment and with the consent of the United States, on August 20, 2009.
2. The 2004 amendments substituted "shall" for "may" in directing relevant factors for the court to consider and amended the list of factors to focus on competitive considerations and to address potentially ambiguous judgment terms. Compare 15 U.S.C. § 16(e) (2004) with 15 U.S.C. § 16(e)(1) (2006); see also United States v. SBC Commc'ns, Inc., 489 F. Supp. 2d 1, 11 (D.D.C. 2007) (concluding that the 2004 amendments "effected minimal changes" to Tunney Act review).
3. Cf. BNS, 858 F.2d at 464 (holding that the court's "ultimate authority under the [APPA] is limited to approving or disapproving the consent decree"); United States v. Gillette Co., 406 F. Supp. 713, 716 (D. Mass. 1975) (noting that, in this way, the court is constrained to "look at the overall picture not hypercritically, nor with a microscope, but with an artist's reducing glass"), aff'd sub nom. Maryland v. United States, 460 U.S. 1001 (1983). See generally Microsoft, 56 F.3d at 1461 (discussing whether "the remedies [obtained in the decree are] so inconsonant with the allegations charged as to fall outside of the 'reaches of the public interest'").
4. See United States v. Enova Corp., 107 F. Supp. 2d 10, 17 (D.D.C. 2000) (noting that the "Tunney Act expressly allows the court to make its public interest determination on the basis of the competitive impact statement and response to comments alone"); United States v. Mid-Am. Dairymen, Inc., 1977-1 Trade Cas. (CCH) 61,508, at 71,980 (W.D. Mo. 1977) ("Absent a showing of corrupt failure of the government to discharge its duty, the Court, in making its public interest finding, should . . . carefully consider the explanations of the government in order to determine whether those explanations are reasonable under the circumstances."); S. Rep. No. 93-298, 93d Cong., 1st Sess., at 6 (1973) ("Where the public interest can be meaningfully evaluated simply on the basis of briefs and oral arguments, that is the approach that should be utilized.").