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TMT Perspectives Insight & Commentary on Business, Legal and Policy Developments Affecting the Telecom, Media, and Technology Sectors

Category Archives: Antitrust and Competition Policy

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The Johnny Appleseed of the Internet Anticipated Net Neutrality Issues

Posted in Antitrust and Competition Policy, FCC, Net Neutrality

We think of the Internet as a computer science or engineering project. And it certainly was. But did you know that according to Robert Taylor, the founder of Xerox PARC’s computer science laboratory, the fundamental vision for the modern Internet came from a psychologist? Well, neither did I, until I came across what seems to… Continue Reading

Net Neutrality—Analyzing Georgetown’s Position

Posted in Antitrust and Competition Policy, FCC, Lawsuits, Net Neutrality

Georgetown University’s business school (specifically the Center for Business and Public Policy) submitted an Amicus Brief in the currently pending net neutrality lawsuit at the D.C. Circuit. It is highly critical of the FCC and dependent upon ideas that are deeply suspect. The Brief is based on the “Economic Policy Vignette.” Economic Flaws. The policy paper… Continue Reading

FCC Commissioner Pai Asks Congress to Partly Defund Agency

Posted in Antitrust and Competition Policy, FCC, Legal Developments, Net Neutrality

Yesterday FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai testified before the House Appropriations Committee, and in his lengthy statement, asked that Congress defund the FCC–or at least that part of the FCC that would implement the FCC’s recent net neutrality decision. There is a certain irony here. Commissioner Pai’s objection to the net neutrality decision stemmed from his… Continue Reading

Net Neutrality–FCC’s Pai Disdainful of Netflix

Posted in Antitrust and Competition Policy, FCC, Legal Developments, Net Neutrality

Last Friday FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai issued a statement that is worth studying. Its context is net neutrality, though that term is not referenced. In the short statement, Commissioner Pai describes “allegations” against Netflix (which frankly, we don’t fully understand) and notes that he met with Netflix about these allegations. Pai’s statement complains that Netflix would… Continue Reading

EU Legislators Vote To Break Up Google

Posted in Antitrust and Competition Policy, Intellectual Property, Legal Developments, Media

The European Parliament has voted to break up Google. The resolution is non-binding. But even if the Commission does pursue a breakup, it’s unclear how the EU could affect the decision. Google is an American company, and the US antitrust authorities have declined to prosecute Google for monopolization under US antitrust laws. I doubt an… Continue Reading

Zero-Rated Data Plans and Net Neutrality

Posted in Antitrust and Competition Policy, Legal Developments, Net Neutrality

We’ve written repeatedly about net neutrality. The debate is very theoretical. So let’s tackle a concrete issue. “Zero rating” is when your mobile data provider doesn’t count the data used in accessing a certain type of application against your monthly data plan. Let’s imagine a simple example. Imagine that Netflix is zero rated by AT&T… Continue Reading

Net Neutrality: Back to Basics – Blocking Access to the Internet Can Be Entirely Rational

Posted in Antitrust and Competition Policy, FCC, Legal Developments, Net Neutrality

The debate over net neutrality has been marked by extreme rhetoric. Those that support regulation designed to keep the Internet “free” and “open” assert that Internet access providers left to their own devices will interfere in the marketplace, thereby stifling innovation and competition. This is a legitimate concern. A free and open marketplace will generally… Continue Reading

Dollar General Goes Hostile – Manipulating Antitrust in High-Stakes Mergers

Posted in Antitrust and Competition Policy, FTC, Legal Developments, Transactions

On Friday, September 5, 2014, Family Dollar issued a press release that effectively foreclosed a friendly deal with Dollar General. On Wednesday, September 10, 2014, Dollar General said it would initiate a cash tender offer for Family Dollar. Dollar General has gone hostile. (See our previous blog on this matter.) In Family Dollar’s release, Family… Continue Reading

Dollar General Ups Its Offer (A Little) – Manipulating Antitrust in High-Stakes Mergers

Posted in Antitrust and Competition Policy, FTC, Legal Developments, Transactions

Last week, we suggested that Dollar General needs to offer a “hell or high water” clause and begin its response to a potential second request if it wants to eliminate antitrust as an issue in its bid to acquire Family Dollar. It looks like Dollar General has taken a more conservative, incremental step, in an… Continue Reading

Next Steps for Dollar General – Manipulating Antitrust in High-Stakes Mergers

Posted in Antitrust and Competition Policy, FTC, Legal Developments, Transactions

Dollar General said on August 28, 2014 that it is “fully” committed to the Family Dollar deal. Bloomberg is reporting that “people familiar with the matter” said last week that Family Dollar is willing to consider Dollar General’s offer if it agrees to sell as many stores as regulators would require (see our previous blog… Continue Reading

American Dumps Orbitz: An Antitrust Investigation to Follow?

Posted in Antitrust and Competition Policy

American Airlines (AA) issued a press release today stating that it and US Airways were withdrawing their fares from Orbitz and Orbitz-affiliated websites effective immediately. Orbitz’s shares were immediately down 5 percent. AA stated that it “ha[s] worked tirelessly with Orbitz to reach a deal with the economics that allow us to keep costs low… Continue Reading

Family Dollar to Merge with Dollar Tree – Manipulating Antitrust in High-Stakes Mergers

Posted in Antitrust and Competition Policy, FTC, Legal Developments, Transactions

Family Dollar, a troubled discount store, is up for sale. They have entered an agreement to merge with Dollar Tree for US$8.5 billion. Recently, Dollar General, a competitor, offered US$9.7 billion. On August 21, 2014, Family Dollar’s board unanimously rejected Dollar General’s offer and reasserted their desire to go forward with Dollar Tree. The grounds… Continue Reading

*Can* You Monopolize a Coffee Cartridge Market?

Posted in Antitrust and Competition Policy, Lawsuits, Legal Developments, Technology

Introduction If you read our recent article discussing the allegations of monopolization in the replacement k-cup market, you may have detected a certain measure of skepticism about the antitrust claims’ potential for success. And you’d be correct. But does that skepticism extend to all aftermarkets? Do we mean to suggest that all aftermarket manufacturers are… Continue Reading

Amazon and Apple Fixing the Price of iPad Covers?

Posted in Antitrust and Competition Policy, Intellectual Property, Lawsuits, Legal Developments

Hard 2 Find Accessories, Inc., a third party vendor on Amazon’s marketplace, has sued Amazon and Apple for violating the Sherman Act, among other laws. H2F alleges that Amazon and Apple conspired to drive H2F off Amazon’s marketplace for purposes of stabilizing the price of iPad covers. The complaint makes some interesting allegations that stand… Continue Reading

Net Neutrality: Can Antitrust Save the Internet?

Posted in Antitrust and Competition Policy, FCC, FTC, Net Neutrality

At a hearing last Friday, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte told the FCC that it should abandon its effort to enforce net neutrality and allow the antitrust agencies—the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice—to police it alone. Chairman Goodlatte suggested that the antitrust laws were sufficient to prevent discrimination, and that any… Continue Reading

A Coffee Monopoly?

Posted in Antitrust and Competition Policy, Lawsuits, Legal Developments

Back in February 2014, makers of a generic version of Keurig’s K-Cup coffee cartridges sued Keurig for monopolizing the market for k-cup cartridges. Since the initial suit was filed, dozens have filed follow-on suits. The gravamen of the original complaint is that there is a relevant antitrust market that consists of k-cups, the coffee-containing cartridges… Continue Reading

Apple’s Acquisition of Beats Music Raises Competition Policy Issues That the US Needs to Address

Posted in Antitrust and Competition Policy, Transactions

It’s widely reported that Apple intends to acquire Beats Electronics LLC. In fact, Dr. Dre himself apparently posted a YouTube video saying as much. This acquisition, like a stream of others in Silicon Valley, raises competition policy issues to which the US, so far, has turned a deaf ear. Unless the US begins to address… Continue Reading

Will SoftBank’s Windfall from Alibaba Be Enough for Sprint to Buy T-Mobile?

Posted in Antitrust and Competition Policy, FCC, Finance, Transactions

SoftBank, the owner of Sprint, is dedicating substantial resources to convince the US business community that greater competition for broadband service will develop in the US if Sprint is allowed to merge with T-Mobile. According to SoftBank’s chairman, Masayoshi Son, this merger would enable the combined company to obtain scope sufficient to compete with AT&T… Continue Reading

What Technology Companies Can Expect from FCC Review of the Comcast – Time Warner Cable Merger

Posted in Antitrust and Competition Policy, FCC, Net Neutrality, Transactions

For a decade, technology companies have been prepared to unleash a wave of innovation related to how people consume cable television. The cable TV industry has generally blocked such efforts, and the FCC to date has largely sidestepped the issue. The competition authorities at the FCC and the DOJ will shortly begin reviewing the proposed… Continue Reading

How Will the New FCC Chairman’s Market Knowledge Affect Merger Reviews?

Posted in Antitrust and Competition Policy, FCC, Transactions

New FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has spent three decades immersed in the business and policy concerns of two of the most significant communications industries – cable and wireless – under the Commission’s jurisdiction. Thus, there is no doubt that he has the knowledge and experience to lead the agency. However, Chairman Wheeler’s stance on many key issues – including Net neutrality – remains unclear. One of… Continue Reading

AT&T Sponsored Data and Net Neutrality, a Video Interview with Dana Frix

Posted in Antitrust and Competition Policy, FCC, Net Neutrality

AT&T recently announced a new mobile service offering called “Sponsored Data.” Sponsored Data is a program where a mobile phone user will not be charged for data used if the company that supplies the data pays AT&T for that data. Some questioned whether the sponsored data program would be challenged under the FCC’s so-called “Net… Continue Reading

What’s Next for UberX in DC?

Posted in Administrative Law, Antitrust and Competition Policy, FTC, Legal Developments, Technology

Last month, the D.C. Taxicab Commission (DCTC) adopted new rules regarding permissible vehicle classifications and color requirements for “digital dispatch” / “sedan” services. These rules effectively block services like Uber’s recently-launched UberX from operating in the District. D.C.’s administrative law does not provide a mechanism for Uber to challenge those rules in court (at least… Continue Reading

Cable Nuptial Alert: Charter Communications and Time Warner Cable May Be Tying the Knot

Posted in Antitrust and Competition Policy, FCC, Technology, Transactions

You may have heard that Charter Communications has retained Goldman Sachs to line up financing for its possible merger with Time Warner Cable. What may not be obvious is that this merger could be a blessing in disguise for technology companies, as it has the potential to foster a competitive marketplace for television “Set Top… Continue Reading

Reverse Payments, Not Per Se, But That’s All We Know

Posted in Antitrust and Competition Policy, FTC, Intellectual Property, Legal Developments

On June 17, 2013, the Supreme Court in Federal Trade Commission v. Actavis, Inc., No. 12-416, held that the use of “reverse payment” settlement agreements to resolve patent infringement litigation may in certain circumstances violate antitrust laws under a rule of reason analysis. The Court summarizes some of the principal issues to consider when evaluating… Continue Reading