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To track accounting, payroll, inventory, sales, parts, service, finance, and insurance, auto dealerships use computerized dealer‐management systems. Some systems use open architecture, under which third parties have some access to dealer‐originated data in the system. Others use closed architecture, under which that type of data scraping is forbidden under the license. One provider, CDK, decided to change from an open system to a closed system. CDK and another provider, Reynolds, entered into agreements to ease the transition, which allowed their subsidiaries (Authenticom’s competitors) continued access to the data. Authenticom, in the business of collecting data from dealer‐management systems and selling or using it for applications, sued under the Sherman Act, 15 U.S.C. 1. Because Authenticom’s loss of access to the data was imperiling its survival, it obtained preliminary injunctions. CDK and Reynolds took an interlocutory appeal. The Seventh Circuit vacated the injunctions, which did not focus on the agreements that are the focus of Authenticom’s lawsuit. Instead, they address the measures that the court believed necessary to “extend a lifeline to Authenticom, to maintain its viability until this case is finally decided on the merits.” The court ordered the defendants to enter into a new arrangement with Authenticom, rather than simply barring implementations of the challenged agreement. View "Authenticom, Inc. v. Reynolds and Reynolds Co." on Justia Law

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The First Circuit agreed with the judgment of the district court that the facts in this case alleging unlawful monopolization could not subject San Juan Cable LLC, doing business as “OneLink,” to liability under the so-called “sham” exception to the Noerr-Pennington immunity. Puerto Rico Telephone Company (PRTC) sought permission from the Puerto Rico Telecommunications Regulatory Board (TRB) to offer internet protocol television services to Puerto Rico residents. OneLink, which provided cable television service to residents of several municipalities in Puerto Rico, petitioned the TRB and other governmental tribunals and officials, to impede PRTC’s efforts. PRTC eventually obtained the requested permission from the TRB. Thereafter, PRTC filed this antitrust action claiming that OneLink’s interference with its permitting efforts constituted unlawful monopolization and attempted monopolization. The district court granted summary judgment to OneLink, concluding that OneLink’s actions were immune from suit under the Noerr-Pennington doctrine, which conditionally protects the right to petition the government. On appeal, PRTC argued that the facts could support a finding that OneLink abused its right to petition and could be found liable under the sham exception to Noerr-Pennington immunity. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the facts in this case could not subject OneLink to liability under the sham exception. View "Puerto Rico Telephone Co. v. San Juan Cable LLC" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs are homeowners in centrally-planned neighborhoods in Thompson’s Station, Tennessee. The developers established and controlled owners’ associations for the neighborhoods but have transferred that control to third-party entities not controlled by either the developers or homeowners. While under the developers’ control, the associations each entered into agreements granting Crystal the right to provide telecommunications services to the neighborhoods for 25 years, with an option for Crystal to unilaterally renew for an additional 25 years. The Agreements make Crystal the exclusive agent for homeowners in procuring services from outside providers. Homeowners must pay the associations a monthly assessment fee, which the associations use to pay Crystal, regardless of whether the homeowner uses Crystal's service, and must pay Crystal $1,500 for the cost of constructing telecommunications infrastructure. Crystal uses service easements within the neighborhoods. Crystal had no prior experience in telecommunications-services and contracts with another provider, DirecTV, and charges homeowners a premium above the rate negotiated with DirecTV. Crystal does not provide services outside of the neighborhoods. The plaintiffs claimed that the Agreements constituted self-dealing, unjust enrichment, unconscionability, unlawful tying, and unlawful exclusivity. The Sixth Circuit reversed dismissal, in part, finding plaintiffs’ allegations plausible on their face with respect to the tying claim, but affirmed dismissal of the exclusivity claim. View "Cates v. Crystal Clear Technologies, LLC" on Justia Law

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First Western Capital Management (“FWCM”), and its parent company First Western Financial, Inc. (collectively, “First Western”), sought a preliminary injunction against former employee Kenneth Malamed for misappropriating trade secrets. In 2008, FWCM acquired Financial Management Advisors, LLC (“FMA”), an investment firm Malamed founded in 1985 primarily to serve high net worth individuals and entities such as trusts and foundations. After selling FMA, Malamed worked for FWCM from 2008 until FWCM terminated him on September 1, 2016. In early 2016, a committee of FWCM directors began discussing the possibility of selling FWCM to another company. Although Malamed was not involved in these discussions, he learned about the potential sale and, in a meeting with other FWCM officers, expressed his displeasure with the buyer under consideration. Following the meeting, Malamed emailed his assistant asking her to print three copies of his client book, which contained the names and contact information for approximately 5,000 FWCM contacts. Of these contacts, 331 were current FWCM clients and roughly half of those had been clients of FMA before First Western acquired it. The printout also contained spreadsheets that included, among other information, client names, the total market value of their holdings under management, and the fees being charged by FWCM. On September 1, 2016, shortly after Malamed’s employment contract expired, First Western fired him. That same day, First Western served him with a complaint it had filed in federal court a month earlier, alleging misappropriation of trade secrets under the federal Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2016 (“DTSA”), and the Colorado Uniform Trade Secrets Act (“CUTSA”), breach of employment contract, and breach of fiduciary duty. First Western moved for a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction to prevent Malamed from soliciting FWCM’s clients. The district court excused First Western from demonstrating irreparable harm (one of the four elements a party seeking injunctive relief is typically required to prove) and granted the injunction. As applied here, the Tenth Circuit determined that if First Western could not show irreparable harm, it cannot obtain injunctive relief. The district court should not have entered the preliminary injunction here. View "First Western Capital v. Malamed" on Justia Law

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The FDA approved Depakote for treating seizures, migraine headaches, and conditions associated with bipolar disorder. Physicians may prescribe it for other "off-label" uses, but a drug’s manufacturer can promote it only as suitable for uses the FDA has found safe and effective. Abbott, which makes Depakote, encouraged intermediaries to promote Depakote’s off-label uses for ADHD, schizophrenia, and dementia, hiding its own involvement. Abbott pleaded guilty to unlawful promotion and paid $1.6 billion to resolve the criminal case and False Claims Act suits, 31 U.S.C. 3729–33. Welfare-benefit plans that paid for Depakote’s off-label uses sought treble damages under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, 18 U.S.C. 1964, for a class comprising all third-party payors. Following a remand, the court dismissed the suit on the ground that the plaintiffs could not show proximate causation, a RICO requirement. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, reasoning that the Payors are not the most directly, injured parties. Patients suffer if they take Depakote when it is useless and may be harmful and costly. Physicians also may lose, though less directly. Because some off-label uses of Depakote may be beneficial to patients, it is hard to treat all off-label prescriptions as injurious to the Payors; if they did not pay for Depakote they would have paid for some other drug. In addition, some physicians were apt to write off-label prescriptions whether or not Abbott promoted such uses. Calculation of damages would require determining the volume of off-label prescriptions that would have occurred absent Abbott’s unlawful activity. View "Sidney Hillman Health Center of Rochester v. Abbott Laboratories, Inc." on Justia Law

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Titanium dioxide is a commodity-like product with no substitutes, the market is dominated by a few firms, and there are substantial barriers to entry. Valspar, a large-scale titanium dioxide purchaser, alleges that suppliers conspired to increase prices, beginning when DuPont—the largest American supplier—joined the Titanium Dioxide Manufacturers Association (TDMA) in 2002. DuPont then announced a price increase. Within two weeks, DuPont’s price increase was matched by other suppliers. During the next 12 years, the alleged conspirators announced price increases 31 times. Because Valspar claims it was overcharged by $176 million. In 2010, a class of titanium dioxide purchasers filed a price-fixing action. Valspar opted out of that class action, which settled. Valspar then filed its own claim and settled except against DuPont. The Third Circuit affirmed the summary judgment in favor of DuPont. Valspar’s characterization of the suppliers’ price announcements “neglects the theory of conscious parallelism” and is contrary to the doctrine that in an oligopoly “any rational decision must take into account the anticipated reaction of the other . . . firms.” Price movement in an oligopoly is interdependent and frequently will lead to successive price increases, because oligopolists may “conclude that the industry as a whole would be better off by raising prices.” Valspar did not show that the suppliers’ parallel pricing went “beyond mere interdependence [and was] so unusual that in the absence of advance agreement, no reasonable firm would have engaged in it.” View "Valspar Corp v. E I Du Pont De Nemours & Co" on Justia Law

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Cox Cable subscribers cannot access premium cable services unless they also rent a set-top box from Cox. A class of plaintiffs in Oklahoma City sued Cox under antitrust laws, alleging Cox had illegally tied cable services to set-top-box rentals in violation of section 1 of the Sherman Act, which prohibits illegal restraints of trade. Though a jury found that Plaintiffs had proved the necessary elements to establish a tying arrangement, the district court disagreed. In granting Cox’s Fed. R. Civ. P. 50(b) motion, the court determined that Plaintiffs had offered insufficient evidence for a jury to find that Cox’s tying arrangement "foreclosed a substantial volume of commerce in Oklahoma City to other sellers or potential sellers of set-top boxes in the market for set- top boxes." After careful consideration, the Tenth Circuit ultimately agreed with the district court and affirmed. View "Healy v. Cox Communications" on Justia Law

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BikerGear filed suit against FedEx, accusing FedEx of fraudulently marking up the weights of packages shipped by BikerGear and overcharging BikerGear for Canadian customers, in violation of the Interstate Commerce Commission Termination Act of 1995 (ICCTA), 49 U.S.C. 13708(b), and the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), 18 U.S.C. 1962(c). The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of the ICCTA claim on the pleadings, and the district court's grant of summary judgment for FedEx and dismissal of BikerGear's substantive RICO claims. The court held that (1) Section 13708 of the ICCTA requires shipping documents to truthfully disclose the charges that a motor carrier in fact assesses, and prohibits a motor carrier from stating it will charge one amount when in reality it charges another; and (2) where, as here, the RICO persons and the RICO enterprise were corporate parents and wholly‐owned subsidiaries that "operate within a unified corporate structure" and were "guided by a single corporate consciousness," the mere fact of separate incorporation, without more, did not satisfy RICO's distinctness requirement under Section 1962(c). View "U1IT4Less Inc. v. FedEx Corp." on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit reversed the dismissal of five complaints filed by automobile body shops, asserting federal antitrust and state tort claims against insurance companies. The court held that the shops pleaded enough facts to plausibly support their federal antitrust and state tort claims. In this case, the body shops argued that the insurance companies engaged in two lines of tactics in pursuit of a single goal: to depress the shops' rates for automobile repair. The body shops have supplied enough allegations to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of an illegal agreement; the body shops have consistently alleged the existence of parallel conduct and of plus factors allowing a plausible inference of an illegal agreement; and the allegations have sufficiently established the body shops' state tort claims of unjust enrichment, quantum meruit, and tortious interference. Accordingly, the court remanded for further proceedings. View "Quality Auto Painting Center of Roselle, Inc. v. State Farm Indemnity Co." on Justia Law

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Rooftops sells tickets to view Cubs games and other events at Wrigley Field from the roofs of buildings it controls. Chicago has an ordinance allowing the rooftop businesses. Before the 2002 season, the Cubs installed a windscreen above the outfield bleachers, obstructing the views from rooftop businesses and sued Rooftops, claiming misappropriation of Cubs’ property by charging fees to watch games.The parties settled by entering into the License Agreement running through 2023. Rooftops agreed to pay the Cubs 17% of their gross revenues in exchange for views into Wrigley Field. The Agreement contemplated Wrigley Field's expansion. In 2013, the Cubs released a mock‐up of its proposed renovation, showing that rooftop businesses would be largely blocked by the construction. The city approved the plan over objections. Rooftops claimed that Cubs’ representatives used the threat of blocking views and other “strong-arm tactics” as leverage to force a sale, and sued, alleging: attempted monopolization; false and misleading commercial representations, defamation, false light, and breach of the non‐disparagement provision; and breach of contract. The court denied Rooftops’ motion for a preliminary injunction. The Seventh CIrcuit affirmed its dismissal of monopolization claims because Major League Baseball’s antitrust exemption applies; Rooftops failed to establish a plausible relevant market; and the Cubs cannot be limited by antitrust law from distributing their own product. The contract's plain language did not limit expansions to Wrigley Field's seating capacity. View "Right Field Rooftops, LLC v. Chicago Cubs Baseball Club, LLC" on Justia Law