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  Antitrust - Legal News

Court declines to hear Microsoft antitrust case

  Antitrust  -   POSTED: 2014/04/28 16:16

The Supreme Court has declined to take up software maker Novell Inc.'s appeal in a long-running antitrust case against Microsoft Corp.

The justices on Monday let stand an appeals court ruling that rejected Novell's $1 billion lawsuit alleging Microsoft undermined the once popular WordPerfect writing program in favor of its own Word program with the Windows 95 rollout.

Novell claimed Microsoft duped it into developing WordPerfect for Windows 95 only to pull the plug so Microsoft could gain market share with its own product. Novell says it was forced to sell WordPerfect for a $1.2 billion loss.

The 10th Circuit ruled that Novell's complaint came too late and it failed to make the larger case that Microsoft was protecting a monopoly on operating systems.

FTC to issue subpoenas in Google antitrust probe

  Antitrust  -   POSTED: 2011/06/23 22:44

A published report says federal regulators are preparing to issue subpoenas to Google and other companies as authorities gather information for a broad antitrust probe into the Internet search leader's business practices.

The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that the Federal Trade Commission will issue subpoenas "within days," which would signal that it has opened a formal investigation.

The FTC is looking into whether Google abuses its dominance of Internet search to extend its influence into other lucrative online markets, such as mapping, comparison shopping and travel. Rivals complain that Google Inc., which handles two out of every three Internet searches in the U.S., manipulates its results to steer users to its own sites and services and bury links to competitors.

The European Commission and the Texas attorney general have already opened investigations into whether Google uses its enormous clout as a major gateway to the Internet to stifle competition online. The EU launched its investigation after competitors -- U.K.-based price comparison site Foundem, French legal search engine and Microsoft-owned shopping site Ciao -- complained that their services were being buried in Google search results.

Judge dismisses EA from NCAA antitrust lawsuit

  Antitrust  -   POSTED: 2011/05/07 10:36

A federal judge has dismissed video game maker Electronic Arts Inc. from a high-profile antitrust lawsuit challenging the NCAA's long-standing prohibition against paying student athletes for their performance.

But U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken on Monday refused to drop the bulk of the case, which accuses the NCAA and its marketing company of operating an illegal sports marketing monopoly. Led by former UCLA basketball standout Ed O'Bannon, former athletes allege they are forced to forever sign away their commercial rights to play collegiate sports.

The judge refused to dismiss the NCAA and Collegiate Licensing Co. from the lawsuit that seeks to become a class action representing thousands of former football and basketball players who say the NCAA illegally controls their images forever without compensation.

The NCAA responds that players are free to make commercial deals after they leave college. NCAA policy prohibits players from receiving compensation while they are playing.

The judge said there is enough evidence to continue the litigation. But she said Monday that there was no evidence that Redwood City-based EA conspired with the NCAA to deny the players compensation and she dismissed the company from the lawsuit.

The O'Bannon case and another led by former Nebraska quarterback Sam Keller are being closely watched because of their potential to dramatically reshape the commercial relationship between the NCAA and its athletes. Keller's lawsuit also alleges that the NCAA is unfairly depriving athletes of their share of revenues generated by their performances. But Keller's lawsuit makes different legal arguments, claiming the NCAA is violating the players' commercial rights when it refuses to cut them in on marketing deals using their images. The Keller lawsuit also names EA as a defendant.

Dairy processor Dean Foods Co. will pay $30 million and take other undisclosed actions to settle allegations by a group of dairy farmers that it had monopolized the milk industry in the Northeast.

The settlement does not include another major player in the national dairy industry that had been named in the original lawsuit.

"This settlement with Dean will help our dairy farmers who have been hurting for too long," said Burlington attorney Andrew Manitsky, who represents Vermont dairy farmers involved in the case.

Manitsky said he couldn't provide any details of the settlement until the case has been submitted to a federal judge in Burlington, which is expected to happen next week.

Dallas-based Dean Foods revealed the settlement in a submission Thursday to the Securities and Exchange Commission.

It said the company had agreed to the payment as a way to settle the "purported class action antitrust lawsuit." It also said it would agree with other terms and conditions for its "raw milk procurement activities at certain of its processing plants located in the northeast." It did not elaborate.

Mitsubishi files antitrust suit against GE

  Antitrust  -   POSTED: 2010/05/21 16:25

Mitsubishi filed an antitrust lawsuit Thursday against General Electric Co., accusing the company of monopolizing part of the wind-turbine market and making "baseless" patent-infringement claims against Mitsubishi to gain a competitive edge.

The suit was filed in federal court in Arkansas, where Mitsubishi plans a $100 million wind turbine manufacturing plant. But the company said in its suit that GE's "improper conduct" is jeopardizing the plant's future because there is now little U.S. demand for Mitsubishi turbines.

"If GE is successful in its campaign to drive Mitsubishi out of the variable-speed wind turbine market, then our facility will have to sit idle," said Sonia Williams, counsel and spokeswoman for Mitsubishi. Construction on the plant is to begin in the fall and the plant is expected to build its first turbine in 2011.

Mitsubishi did not specify the damages it is seeking but said Thursday the amount would likely be more than $1 billion. The suit claims that GE's patents are invalid and that the company filed "sham lawsuits" as a marketing tool against Mitsubishi.

International Business Machines Corp. was named in a complaint in the European Union over claims it is blocking consumer access to open-source mainframe software developed by Paris-based TurboHercules SAS.

IBM, the world’s biggest provider of computer services, is preventing customers from using a so-called mainframe emulator known as Hercules, by tying its mainframe operating system to IBM hardware, closely held TurboHercules said in a statement.

“This conduct prevents TurboHercules from providing its product to mainframe customers desiring an open-source solution,” TurboHercules Chairman Roger Bowler, who developed Hercules, said today.

The Brussels-based European Commission, which polices antitrust rules in the 27-nation EU, last year imposed a record 1.06 billion-euro ($1.43 billion) fine against Intel Corp., while Microsoft Corp. in December agreed to give consumers a choice among Web browsers to avoid an EU fine.

The U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York said a lower court judge erred in dismissing the complaint alleging violations of the federal Sherman Act in October 2008.

Among the named defendants in the case are Bertelsmann AG, EMI Group, Sony Corp, Time Warner Inc, Vivendi SA and Warner Music Group Corp or various affiliates.

The plaintiffs contended that record labels entered into joint ventures and licenses that had the effect of creating artificial price floors for downloaded music.

They also said that when competitors started to distribute the labels' music, the defendants "agreed" to a wholesale floor of about 70 cents per song, which were enforced in part through restrictive license agreements.

Writing for a three-judge panel, Circuit Judge Robert Katzmann said the plaintiffs' allegations are "sufficient to plausibly suggest" a conspiracy to fix prices.

Noting that the defendants control more than 80 percent of digital music sold to U.S. purchasers, the judge pointed to one commentator who concluded that "nobody in their right mind" would want to use two of the music services at issue.

He said this suggested "some form of agreement among defendants would have been needed to render the enterprises profitable."

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