• Digital advertising faces UK scrutiny under antitrust, consumer laws
    10 October 2018
    The digital advertising industry could face closer competition scrutiny in the UK, with the antitrust regulator “actively considering” a market study into the sector, the watchdog’s boss has said, in a possible warning to US-based technology companies such as Google and Facebook.

    “We are interested in getting involved,” Andrea Coscelli, chief executive of the Competition and Markets Authority, told UK lawmakers late on Tuesday. Coscelli was speaking at a Communications Committee hearing of the House of Lords, the UK Parliament’s unelected upper chamber.

    Nevertheless, he said, “before we develop a heavily regulatory framework for the Internet, I think we probably want to see more evidence that there are very enduring, entrenched problems there.”

    By Simon Zekaria.

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  • EU group-claims proposal faces delays as lawmakers fail to agree
    10 October 2018
    A proposal to create an EU-wide framework for group damages claims faces an uphill struggle if it is to be concluded before European Parliament elections next year, after deep divides emerged between lawmakers regarding its purpose and scope.

    Speaking to EU lawmakers today, the European Commission’s Maria-Blanca Rodriguez Galindo said: “We have to take time and to make things right,” though the EU executive still hopes to get the bill adopted before the elections in May 2019.

    A report from the assembly’s Committee on Legal Affairs, which will take the lead in establishing the position that EU lawmakers take on the proposal, has been delayed by several weeks as it seeks to reconcile substantial differences between the parliament’s different political groups, as well as between national governments.

    By Michael Acton.

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  • FTC, DOJ heads diverge on antitrust, Frand
    02 October 2018
    After a year of speeches in which the Justice Department’s top antitrust official sided with owners of patents covering technology standards, the head of Federal Trade Commission last week staked out more moderate ground.

    The diverging views at the top of the US's two antitrust agencies could lead to differing priorities for enforcement.

    The FTC is standing by its antitrust lawsuit against Qualcomm, one of the most significant owners of standard-essential patents and one of the largest suppliers of wireless connectivity technology in the world.

    By Joshua Sisco

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  • Mastercard, Visa face UK card-fee damages claims from Grange Hotels
    01 October 2018
    Mastercard and Visa are facing new claims for damages in the UK, after luxury hotel operator Grange Hotels filed lawsuits to recover more than 200,000 pounds in inflated card fees, MLex understands.

    The hotel operator filed two separate claims at the High Court in London on Oct. 1. The lawsuits argue that the card networks’ so-called interchange fees were “at all times higher than it would otherwise have been,” according to documents seen by MLex. Grange Hotels is claiming damages for losses suffered “as a result of the unlawful fees and rules.”

    The hotel operator is also seeking a “declaration” that the relevant fee arrangements “are and have at all material times been void and unenforceable.”

    By Simon Zekaria

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  • US corporate cartel charges dip for third straight year
    01 October 2018
    For the third year in a row, the number of companies facing US criminal antitrust charges has dropped.

    During fiscal 2018 — the 12-month period that ended Sunday — the US Department of Justice charged just three companies with price-fixing. Antitrust prosecutors also indicted a fourth company, Detloff Marketing and Asset Management in Minnesota, on mail and wire fraud charges. In comparison, in fiscal 2017, prosecutors charged eight companies, and the year before that, they filed charges against 16.

    All three firms charged in the 2018 fiscal year — BNP Paribas USA, Maruyasu and Nippon Chemi-Con — agreed to plead guilty. BNP pleaded guilty in January to participating in a price-fixing conspiracy related to foreign currency exchange markets and paid $90 million in fines. Maruyasu pleaded guilty in May to fixing prices on automotive steel tubes and paid $12 million.

    By Leah Nylen

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