Terminating the Interminable

Antitrust Division Spring Update 2019

Nearly one year ago, the Antitrust Division announced its initiative to terminate outdated “legacy” antitrust judgments without sunset provisions that clog court dockets and create unnecessary uncertainty for businesses. The Division first identified nearly 1300 such judgments, and then began a thorough process for analyzing each judgment to determine whether it continues to serve competition. Many of these judgments—some dating back over 100 years—no longer serve the interests of competition.

These include judgments that (1) prohibit already-illegal conduct (e.g., price fixing and market allocation), (2) cover industries in which relevant circumstances have changed, and (3) bind defendants who are no longer operating in the relevant line of commerce. For instance, the Division sought and obtained termination of a ninety-two-year-old judgment that prohibited defendants from activities related to the sale of amusement tickets and allocation of amusement ticket customers. The Division’s efforts also mean that a 1978 judgment that regulated the conduct of Pan American World Airways (PanAm) and Trans World Airlines (TWA) is no longer on the books.

As described in greater detail on the Division’s public Judgment Termination web page, the Division has already posted for public comment decrees from over 70 judicial districts. The Division is filing requests to terminate as appropriate after public comment. For instance, the U.S. District Courts for the District of Columbia and for the Eastern District of Virginia have already granted the Division’s requests and terminated the judgments in those jurisdictions. In the coming months, the Division expects to file termination papers in nearly all affected judicial districts.

As part of its review of legacy judgments, the Division sought public comments on the Paramount consent decrees related to U.S. v. Paramount, 334 U.S. 131 (1948). The Division invited submissions regarding whether the Paramount Decrees, in whole or in part, are still necessary to protect competition in the motion picture industry. The Division appreciates the comments it received and is now analyzing what, if any, further action is warranted.


Photo credit: Kwangmoozaa/iStock/Getty Images Plus


Updated March 26, 2019

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