Justia Antitrust & Trade Regulation Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
1-800-Contacts, Inc. v. Federal Trade Comission
The Second Circuit granted 1-800 Contacts' petitions for review of the FTC's final order finding that agreements between 1-800 Contacts and various competitors to, among other things, refrain from bidding on "keyword" search terms for internet advertisements, violate Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act (FTC Act).The court held that, although trademark settlement agreements are not immune from antitrust scrutiny, the FTC (1) improperly considered the agreements to be "inherently suspect" and (2) incorrectly concluded that the challenged agreements are a violation of the FTC Act under the "rule of reason." In this case, where the restrictions that arise are born of typical trademark settlement agreements, the court cannot overlook the challenged agreements' procompetitive goal of promoting trademark policy. In light of the strong procompetitive justification of protecting 1-800 Contacts' trademarks, the court concluded that the challenged agreements merely regulate and perhaps thereby promote competition. Therefore, the court stated that they do not constitute a violation of the Sherman Act and thus an asserted violation of the FTC Act fails of necessity. Accordingly, the court vacated the FTC's final order and remanded to the Commission with orders to dismiss the administrative complaint. View "1-800-Contacts, Inc. v. Federal Trade Comission" on Justia Law
Sonterra Capital Master Fund Ltd. v. UBS AG
The Second Circuit reversed the district court's dismissal of plaintiffs' Sherman Act, RICO Act, and common-law claims against defendants for lack of Article III standing. Plaintiffs are a group of investment funds and defendants are a collection of financial institutions. Plaintiffs' claims stemmed from a scheme to fix the benchmark interest rates used to price financial derivatives in the Yen currency market.The court held that plaintiffs alleged an injury in fact sufficient for Article III standing, because plaintiffs plausibly alleged that defendants' conduct caused them to suffer economic injury. In this case, plaintiffs alleged that they entered into financial agreements on unfavorable terms because defendants manipulated benchmark rates in their own favor. Accordingly, the court remanded for further proceedings. View "Sonterra Capital Master Fund Ltd. v. UBS AG" on Justia Law
New York v. Mountain Tobacco Co.
King Mountain appealed the district court's judgment granting partial summary judgment for the State on its claims that King Mountain violated state laws on cigarette sales, and enjoining future violations. The State cross-appealed from the district court's dismissal of its claims under the Contraband Cigarette Trafficking Act (CCTA) and the Prevent All Cigarette Trafficking Act (PACT Act).The Second Circuit reversed with respect to the district court's grant of summary judgment for King Mountain and the denial of summary judgment for the State on the PACT Act claim. The court agreed with the State that Congress's decision to separately define "Indian country" and "State" in the PACT Act evidenced Congressional intent to expand the traditional understanding of "interstate commerce" rather than narrow it. The court held that the definition of "commerce between a State and any place outside the State," encompassed King Mountain's sales from the Yakama reservation in Washington State to Indian reservations in New York. The court agreed with the district court's holding that King Mountain, which was organized under the laws of the Yakama Nation, wholly owned by a member of the Yakama Nation, and located on the Yakama reservation, qualified as an "Indian in Indian Country," and thus was exempt from the CCTA.The court held that King Mountain failed to establish a violation of the dormant Commerce Clause; there was no error in the district court's determination that the State's third claim for relief was not barred by res judicata; the district court correctly granted summary judgment for the State on its third claim for relief; and, to the extent King Mountain's argument related to trade, there was no right to trade in the Yakama Treaty. Therefore, the court affirmed in all other respects. View "New York v. Mountain Tobacco Co." on Justia Law
New York v. United Parcel Service, Inc.
The State and City of New York filed suit charging UPS with violating the Contraband Cigarette Trafficking Act (CCTA), the Prevent All Cigarette Trafficking Act (PACT Act), and New York Public Health Law 1399-ll (PHL 1399-ll), as well as breaching its settlement agreement, the Assurance of Discontinuance (AOD), with the New York State Attorney General.The court held that UPS did not honor the AOD and was therefore subject to liability under the PACT Act and PHL 139-ll; UPS was liable for violations of the AOD's audit requirement; and UPS violated the CCTA by knowingly transporting more than 10,000 unstamped cigarettes. In regard to damages and penalties awards, the court held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in allowing plaintiffs to present their damages case nor did it clearly err in making factual findings based on record evidence; the district court erred in awarding plaintiffs only half of the unpaid taxes on cigarettes UPS unlawfully shipped; and the district court abused its discretion in awarding per-violation penalties under both the PACT Act and PHL 1399-ll.Therefore, the court affirmed the judgment of liability and attendant penalties under PHL 1399-ll; affirmed the judgment of liability, but vacated the imposition of the penalties under the PACT Act; affirmed the judgment of liability, but modified the award of damages under the CCTA; affirmed the judgment of liability, but modified the award of penalties under the AOD; and affirmed the judgment as modified. View "New York v. United Parcel Service, Inc." on Justia Law
Biocad JSC v. F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd.
Biocad, a private pharmaceutical company based in Russia, filed suit seeking damages and other relief for anticompetitive conduct by foreign entities in a foreign country that purportedly has delayed or prevented its entry into the United States market for cancer treatment drugs.The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of Biocad's claims, holding that Biocad's Sherman Act claims were barred by the Foreign Trade Antitrust Improvements Act (FTAIA), because the foreign nature of Biocad's alleged injuries placed its claims beyond the reach of United States antitrust laws. Based on the language, structure, and purpose of the FTAIA, the court held that the import exclusion applies when a defendantʹs actions immediately impact the United States import market and not merely when a defendant subjectively intends to affect the United States import market in the future. Declining to consider Biocad's theory of injury under the domestic effects exception of the FTAIA, the court held that Biocad failed to plausibly allege that defendants' purportedly anticompetitive conduct in Russia fell within the exception for conduct involving import commerce under the FTAIA. Furthermore, because Biocad has not stated a plausible claim for relief under the Sherman Act, its claim under the Donnelly Act also failed. View "Biocad JSC v. F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd." on Justia Law
US Airways, Inc. v. Sabre Holdings Corp.
US Airways filed suit against Sabre, alleging violations of Sections 1 and 2 of the Sherman Antitrust Act, with respect to travel technology platforms provided by Sabre that are used in connection with the purchase and sale of tickets for US Airways flights. Sabre appealed the district court's denial of its post‐trial motion for judgment as a matter of law, or in the alternative a new trial, on Count 1 based largely in part on a recent Supreme Court decision, Ohio v. American Express Co., 138 S. Ct. 2274 (2018) (Amex II). US Airways cross-appealed, contending that Counts 2 and 3 of its complaint were erroneously dismissed.The Second Circuit held that the district court did not—as Amex II now requires in cases involving two‐sided transaction platforms like Sabre—instruct the jury that the relevant market must include both sides of the platform as a matter of law. Therefore, the court could not affirm the judgment of the district court based on the pre‐Amex II verdict of the jury. However, the court held, based on the evidence that was before the jury at the time it rendered its verdict, that under instructions consistent with Amex II, the jury could have rendered (not would have been required to render) a proper verdict in favor of US Airways on Count 1. The court also concluded that the district court correctly limited US Airwaysʹs damages following Sabreʹs motion for summary judgment, but was incorrect in its judgment to dismiss Counts 2 and 3 of US Airwaysʹs complaint. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, reversed in part, vacated in part, and remanded for further proceedings. View "US Airways, Inc. v. Sabre Holdings Corp." on Justia Law
Eastman Kodak, Co. v. Henry Bath LLC
In three consolidated actions, plaintiffs challenged the district court's grant of summary judgment for defendants and dismissal of their complaints alleging violations of Section 1 of the Sherman Act through a conspiracy to inflate prices in the primary aluminum market.The Second Circuit held that the district court erred by determining that plaintiffs failed to establish antitrust standing under In re Aluminum Warehousing Antitrust Litig. (Aluminum III), 833 F.3d 151 (2d Cir. 2016). The court held that the circumstances of these plaintiffs differed materially from those involved in Aluminum III, and the rationale of Aluminum III did not apply to their complaints. In this case, the evidence adduced by plaintiffs supported their contention that defendants' conspiratorial acts inflated a component of the price of primary aluminum. View "Eastman Kodak, Co. v. Henry Bath LLC" on Justia Law
IQ Dental Supply, Inc. v. Henry Schein, Inc.
IQ filed suit against three large dental supply distributors, alleging that defendants violated federal and state antitrust laws, as well as common law tort claims. The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of IQ's claim that it has antitrust standing to challenge the boycott of SourceOne and the state dental associations (SDAs) that had partnered with SourceOne. However, the court found that IQ's antitrust and tort claims may go forward on the direct boycott allegations. In this case, IQ was an efficient enforcer of the antitrust laws solely with respect to its allegations that it has been directly boycotted by the actions of defendants. Accordingly, the court vacated in part and remanded for further proceedings. Finally, IQ's state law antitrust claims and common law tort claims were also vacated and remanded, but only to the extent that they relied on IQ's allegations that it suffered harm as a result of the direct boycott. View "IQ Dental Supply, Inc. v. Henry Schein, Inc." on Justia Law
LLM Bar Exam, LLC v. Barbri, Inc.
The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of LBE's action alleging claims under the Sherman Act and the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). LBE alleged that Barbri and law schools entered into agreements whereby Barbri donates money to the schools, bribes their administrators, and hires their faculty to teach bar review courses. LBE further alleged that, in exchange, the law school gives Barbri direct access to promote and sell its products on campus.The court adopted the district court's well-reasoned and thorough analysis of LBE's allegations and held that the district court properly dismissed the complaint under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) for failure to state a plausible claim of relief. The district court concluded that internal contradictions and conclusory assertions in the complaint did not plausibly support LBE's claim that Barbri and the law schools conspired to enable Barbri to gain a monopoly. View "LLM Bar Exam, LLC v. Barbri, Inc." on Justia Law
Connecticut Fine Wine and Spirits LLC v. Seagull
Total Wine challenged provisions of Connecticut’s Liquor Control Act and regulations as preempted by the Sherman Act, 15 U.S.C. 1. Connecticut’s “post and hold” provisions require state-licensed manufacturers, wholesalers, and out-of-state permittees to post a “bottle price” or “can price” and a “case price” each month with the Department of Consumer Protection for each alcoholic product that the wholesaler intends to sell during the following month; they may “amend” their posted prices to “match” competitors’ lower prices but are obligated to “hold” their prices at the posted price (amended or not) for a month. Connecticut’s minimum-retail-price provisions require that retailers sell to customers at or above a statutorily defined “[c]ost,” which is not defined as the retailer’s actual cost. The post-and-hold number supplies the central component of “[c]ost” and largely dictates the price at which Connecticut retailers must sell their alcoholic products. The Second Circuit affirmed dismissal of the complaint. Connecticut’s minimum-retail-price provisions, compelling only vertical pricing arrangements among private actors, are not preempted. The post-and-hold provisions were not preempted because they “do not compel any agreement” among wholesalers, but only individual action. The court also upheld a price discrimination prohibition as falling outside the scope of the Sherman Act. View "Connecticut Fine Wine and Spirits LLC v. Seagull" on Justia Law