Chillin'Competition

Relaxing whilst doing Competition Law is not an Oxymoron

Some interesting and recent stuff

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There has been some interesting stuff going on in the past few days that we haven´t been able to cover. Here’s a brief (and subjective) account of some recent antitrust related news:

– Bill Gates has been (and at the time of writing he may well still be) testifying in a Utah Court in the framework of a case initiated by Novell. Novell is arguing that Microsoft encouraged them to develop WordPerfect software for Windows, only to later withdraw its support because WordPerfect competed with other Microsoft products. Judge Motz, who is presiding over the case, has reportedly expressed skepticism that Novell’s claims have merit.

– Chinese authorities confirmed that there is currently an ongoing investigation concerning a possible abuse of dominance on the part of two State-owned companies (China Telecom Corp. and China Unicom). The antitrust branch within the NDRC is investigating whether these two companies -allegedly dominant in the market for broadband internet services- may have been charging their competitors higher fees for broadband access while offering favorable prices to non-competitors. This is to our knowledge the first high profile abuse of dominance investigation since the Antimonopoly Law was enacted in 2008. The fact that it is targeting two State owned companies makes it particularly interesting. We’ll be asking our “Chinese correspondent” to keep an eye open for any possible developments.

– Here´s one that I´m following with particular interest: NBA players hired the very well known antitrust lawyer David Boies to represent them in their battle against franchise owners that has led to the NBA lockout. The players have now filed two class action lawsuits (one in Minessota and one in California, which are considered to be favorable venues) asking for treble damages (that is, triple the amount of the more than $ 2 billion they would´ve made this season). The lawsuits argue that the lockout “constitutes an illegal group boycott, price-fixing agreement, and/or restraint of trade in violation of the Sherman Act” an hat the owners´ final offer for a new collective bargaining agreement would have “wiped out the competitive market for most NBA players”.  (For our comments on the very similar NFL precedent see here).

Giorgio Monti (Professor at the European University Institute in Florence and author of one of our favorite competition law textbooks) read our posts on Pierre Fabre and on the future of Article 101 and invited us to participate at a workshop in Fiesole on January 5th. Should be very interesting; we’ll give you more details in the coming days.

– Antitrust students at Berkeley have started their own Berkeley Global Antitrust Blog. Best of lucks to them!

-Finally, last week we received a couple of emails from readers that reveal that my co-blogger Nicolas is apparently becoming a celebrity. One reader told us about the fact that there is a Nicolas Petit street in Luxembourg, and another reader sent us a picture that shows that a young competition lawyer has a picture of Brad Pitt Nicolas above her desk (!)

See pic below for evidence. We´ll keep the identity of Nico´s fan secret in order to avoid any incidents with Ms. Petit ; )

Written by Alfonso Lamadrid

21 November 2011 at 8:39 pm

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