Justia Antitrust & Trade Regulation Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in International Trade
Motorola Mobility LLC v. AU Optronics Corp.
Motorola and its foreign subsidiaries buy LCD panels and incorporate them into cellphones. They alleged that foreign LCD panel manufacturers violated section 1 of the Sherman Act, 15 U.S.C. 1, by fixing prices. Only about one percent of the panels were bought by Motorola in the U.S. The other 99 percent were bought by, paid for, and delivered to foreign subsidiaries; 42 percent of the panels were bought by subsidiaries and incorporated into products that were shipped to Motorola in the U.S. for resale. The other 57 percent were incorporated into products that were sold abroad and never became U.S. domestic commerce, subject to the Sherman Act. The district judge ruled that Motorola’s claim regarding the 42 percent was barred by 15 U.S.C. 6a(1)(A): the Act “shall not apply to conduct involving trade or commerce (other than import trade or import commerce) with foreign nations unless such conduct has a direct, substantial, and reasonably foreseeable effect on trade or commerce which is not trade or commerce with foreign nations, or on import trade or import commerce with foreign nations.” The Seventh Circuit affirmed, reasoning that rampant extraterritorial application of U.S. law “creates a serious risk of interference with a foreign nation’s ability independently to regulate its own commercial affairs.” View "Motorola Mobility LLC v. AU Optronics Corp." on Justia Law
Global Reins. Corp.-U.S. Branch v Equitas Ltd.
This action arose from practices employed in connection with the handling of claims made under retrocessional reinsurance treaties providing what was known as "non-life" coverage. At issue was the sufficiency and extra-territorial reach of plaintiff's claim under New York State's antitrust statute (Donnelly Act), General Business Law 340 et seq. Plaintiff, a New York branch of a German reinsurance corporation, sued defendants, English based entities engaged in the business of providing retrocessionary reinsurance. The Appellate Division found that the complaint adequately pled a worldwide market. And, while acknowledging that the crucial allegations contained in paragraph 36 of the amended pleading did not separately allege market power, the allegations read together and liberally construed were adequate to that purpose. The Appellate Division granted plaintiff leave to appeal, certifying to the court the question of whether its order reversing the order of Supreme Court was properly made. The court answered in the negative and reversed. Even if the pleading deficiency at issue could be cured and the court perceived no reason to suppose that the formidable hurdle of alleging market power could be surmounted by plaintiff there would remain as an immovable obstacle to the action's maintenance, the circumstance that the Donnelly Act could not be understood to extend to the foreign conspiracy plaintiff purported to described.View "Global Reins. Corp.-U.S. Branch v Equitas Ltd." on Justia Law
Changzhou Wujin Fine Chem. Factory Co., Ltd. v. United States
When merchandise is sold in the U.S. at less than fair value, the Commerce Department may impose antidumping duties, 19 U.S.C. 1673e(a)(1), 1677b(a)(1), 1677a(a). Commerce generally determines individual margins for each exporter or producer, but if that is not practicable, may investigate a reasonable number of respondents. Others are assigned a separate “all-others” rate. In proceedings involving non-market economy countries, including China, Commerce presumes that exporters and producers are state-controlled, and assigns them a state-wide rate. This presumption is rebuttable; a company that demonstrates sufficient independence from state control may apply for a separate rate. Commerce concluded that the Jiangsu Jianghai Chemical was entitled to a separate rate. The company subsequently challenged the rate calculation. The Court of International Trade held that Commerce did not exceed the scope of a remand order when it recalculated the U.S. price and that the explanation given for calculation of the separate rate was not unreasonable. The Federal Circuit reversed in part and remanded to Commerce to again reconsider its approach to calculating the separate rate. “Commerce must act non-arbitrarily and must explain why its approach is a ‘reasonable method,’” in light alternatives available and with recognition that the calculation will affect only cooperating respondents. View "Changzhou Wujin Fine Chem. Factory Co., Ltd. v. United States" on Justia Law
PSC VSMPO-Avisma Corp. v. United States
Avisma produces magnesium and titanium sponge in Russia. The process starts with a dehydration step. Most of the resultant raw magnesium is then processed into pure and alloyed magnesium, the subject of an antidumping order issued by Commerce in response to a petition by domestic producers. A portion of the raw magnesium is used to produce titanium sponge. After Commerce imposed a 15.77 percent duty, the Trade Court remanded the case. On remand, Commerce declined to alter the determination. The Trade Court then held that, when determining Avisma’s magnesium production costs for purposes of calculating the constructed value of Avisma’s magnesium, Commerce was required to take into account Avisma’s entire production process, which includes titanium, as well as magnesium. In its second remand determination, Commerce determined the constructed value of Avisma’s magnesium by taking into account Avisma’s entire production process, resulting in an antidumping duty of 8.51 percent. The Trade Court issued final judgment accordingly. The Federal Circuit reversed and reinstated Commerce’s earlier decision. The Trade Court erred in requiring Commerce to consider an affidavit by Avisma’s accountant that Commerce had determined was untimely. View "PSC VSMPO-Avisma Corp. v. United States" on Justia Law
Minn-Chem, Inc. v. Agrium, Inc.
Most of the world's reserves of potash, a mineral used primarily in fertilizer, are in Canada, Russia, and Belarus. Defendants are producers with mines in those countries. Plaintiffs are direct and indirect potash purchasers in the U.S. They allege that producers operated a cartel through which they fixed prices in Brazil, China, and India, and that inflated prices in those markets influenced the price of potash in the U.S. Defendants moved to dismiss, arguing that the district court lacked jurisdiction under the Foreign Trade Antitrust Improvements Act, 15 U.S.C. 6a. The district court denied the motion. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. The world market for potash is highly concentrated and U.S. customers account for a high percentage of sales. This is not a “House-that-Jack-Built situation in which action in a foreign country filters through many layers and finally causes a few ripples” in the U.S. Foreign sellers allegedly created a cartel, took steps outside the U.S. to drive the price up of a product that is wanted in the U.S., and, after succeeding, sold that product to U.S. customers. The payment of overcharges by those customers was objectively foreseeable, and the amount of commerce is substantial. View "Minn-Chem, Inc. v. Agrium, Inc." on Justia Law
Carrier Corp. v. Outokumpu Oyj
Plaintiffs are among the world’s largest purchasers of air conditioning and refrigeration copper tubing. Defendants imported ACR copper into the U.S. In 2003 the Commission of the European Communities found that defendants and other conspired on prices targets and other terms for industrial tubes and allocated customers and market shares in violation of European law. The findings did not identify any conspiratorial agreements with respect to U.S. markets. In 2004, another EC decision found violation in the market for plumbing tubes. Plaintiff claimed that the European conspiracy was also directed at the U.S. market for ACR industrial tubes, violating the Sherman Act and the Tennessee Trade Practices Act. Two similar cases, involving different plaintiffs, had been dismissed. The district court dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and failure to state a claim. The Sixth Circuit reversed, finding that the complaint adequately stated a claim under the Sherman Act and was not barred by the Act's limitations period, 15 U.S.C. 15b and that the court had personal jurisdiction. The fact that the complaint borrows its substance from the EC decision and then builds on the EC’s findings does not render its allegations any less valid.View "Carrier Corp. v. Outokumpu Oyj" on Justia Law
Sullivan v. DB Inv., Inc.
Plaintiffs alleged that De Beers coordinated worldwide sales of diamonds by executing agreements with competitors, setting production limits, restricting resale within regions, and directing marketing, and was able to control quantity and prices by regimenting sales to preferred wholesalers. Plaintiffs claimed violations of antitrust, consumer protection, and unjust enrichment laws, and unfair business practices and false advertising. De Beers initially refused to appear, asserting lack of personal jurisdiction, but entered into a settlement with indirect purchasers that included a stipulated injunction. De Beers agreed to jurisdiction for the purpose of fulfilling terms of the settlement and enforcement of the injunction. The district court entered an order, approving the settlement and certifying a class of Indirect Purchasers in order to distribute the settlement fund and enforce the injunction. De Beers then entered into an agreement with direct purchasers that paralleled the Indirect Purchaser Settlement. The Third Circuit remanded the certification of two nationwide settlement classes as inconsistent with the predominance inquiry mandated by FRCP 23(b)(3), but, on rehearing, vacated its order. The court then affirmed the class certifications, rejecting a claim that the court was required to ensure that each class member possesses a colorable legal claim. The settlement was fair, reasonable, and adequate. View "Sullivan v. DB Inv., Inc." on Justia Law
Minn-Chem, Inc. v. Agrium Inc.
Most of the world's reserves of potash, a mineral used primarily in fertilizer, are in Canada, Russia, and Belarus. Defendants are producers with mines in those countries. Plaintiffs are direct and indirect potash purchasers in the U.S. They allege that producers operated a cartel through which they fixed prices in Brazil, China, and India, and that inflated prices in those markets influenced the price of potash in the U.S. Defendants moved to dismiss, arguing that the district court lacked jurisdiction under the Foreign Trade Antitrust Improvements Act, 15 U.S.C. 6a. The district court denied the motion. The Seventh Circuit reversed. The FTAIA limits the extraterritorial reach of the Sherman Antitrust Act to foreign anticompetitive conduct that either involves U.S. import commerce or has a "direct, substantial, and reasonably foreseeable effect" on U.S. import or domestic commerce. Whether it blocks jurisdiction or establishes an element of a Sherman Act claim, the FTAIA bars this suit. The complaint alleged little of substance concerning the relationship between the alleged overseas anticompetitive conduct and the American domestic market. View "Minn-Chem, Inc. v. Agrium Inc." on Justia Law
Animal Science Prods. Inc. v. China Minmetals Corp.
Plaintiffs, domestic purchasers of magnesite, alleged that defendants, Chinese exporters, engaged in a conspiracy to fix the price of magnesite in violation of the Clayton Act, 15 U.S.C. 4, 16, predicated on alleged violation of the Sherman Act, 15 U.S.C. 1. The district court dismissed, holding that it lacked subject matter jurisdiction under the Foreign Trade Antitrust Improvements Act, 15 U.S.C. 6a. The Third Circuit vacated. FTAIA states that the Sherman Act "shall not apply to conduct involving trade or commerce . . . with foreign nations" with two exceptions. The Sherman Act does apply if defendants were involved in "import trade or import commerce" or if defendants' "conduct has a direct, substantial, and reasonably foreseeable effect" on domestic commerce, import commerce, or certain export commerce and that conduct "gives rise" to a Sherman Act claim. FTAIA imposes a substantive merits limitation, not a jurisdictional bar. On remand, if the court addresses the "import trade" exception, it must assess whether plaintiffs adequately allege that defendants' conduct is directed at a U.S. import market and not solely whether defendants physically imported goods. If the court assesses the "effects exception" it must determine whether the alleged domestic effect would have been evident to a reasonable person making practical business judgments. View "Animal Science Prods. Inc. v. China Minmetals Corp." on Justia Law