On January 26, 2008 Hexion Specialty Chemicals announced that both it and Huntsman Corporation agreed to allow additional time for the Federal Trade Commission to review the proposed merger of the two companies. As a result, the merger is not expected to close before May 3. To accommodate the extension, Hexion also gave notice to Huntsman that on April 5, it plans to exercise its option and extend the Termination Date under the Merger Agreement for 90 days, and thus, if the conditions to Hexion's extension right are met on April 5, the termination date under the Merger Agreement will be extended until July 4, 2008.
On January 24, 2008 the DOJ announced that it will require Pearson Plc to divest assets relating to three clinical testing markets in order to proceed with Pearson's proposed $950 million acquisition of Harcourt Assessment. The DOJ claimed that the deal would have resulted in higher prices to purchasers of clinical tests, including many school districts, and would likely have impaired the launch of a competitive new test for adult abnormal personality disorders. The products to be divested are clinical tests that are used by psychologists, speech-language pathologists, and clinicians to diagnose persons who have or are at risk of developing certain disorders or disabilities.
On January 24, 2008 the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) or (“Commission”) announced a complaint and settlement with Negotiated Data Solutions LLC (N-Data), which allegedly violated federal law by engaging in unfair methods of competition and unfair acts or practices regarding its enforcement of certain patents against makers of equipment employing Ethernet, a computer networking standard used in nearly every computer sold in the United States.
On January 16, 2008 the European Commission (the “Commission”) announced that it launched an inquiry into the pharmaceuticals sector under Article 17 of Regulation (EC) 1/2003. The Commission is concerned that competition within the pharmaceuticals sector may be restricted or distorted. In particular, the Commission highlighted the decline of innovation.
In its announcement, the Commission highlighted that market distortion may be occurring in the patenting or exercise of patenting products, vexatious litigation and/or collusive agreements, which may limit consumer choice, reduce economic incentives to invest in research and development and damage public and private health budgets. The Commission is conducting unannounced inspections to gain immediate access to relevant information and is targeting pharmaceutical suppliers of innovative and generic medicines for human use. In addition, the Commission holds the powers to inspect consumer and professional health care organizations and authorities granting patents and marketing authorizations for drugs. The Commission intends to publish its preliminary report for consultation in autumn 2008 and it expects to publish the final report in spring 2009.
Opera, a Norwegian developer of web-browsers, filed a complaint against Microsoft with the European Commission (the “Commission“) claiming Microsoft is abusing its dominant position by tying its browser, Internet Explorer, to the Windows operating system and by hindering interoperability by not following accepted Web standards. The developer asked the Commission to require Microsoft to unbundle Internet Explorer from Windows and/or carry alternative browsers pre-installed on the desktop and require Microsoft to follow fundamental and open Web standards accepted by the Web-authoring communities. Opera thinks that its requested remedies gives consumers greater freedom and flexibility while, at the same time, ensuring that the Web further develops into a platform for innovation.
The Federal Trade Commission stopped a father, his two sons, and their network of companies from deceptively selling a healthcare business opportunity with false promises of earning up to a million dollars in profits. In addition, the FTC halted their sale of an herbal tea product, marketed with claims that it could prevent, treat, or cure a number of diseases, including AIDS, diabetes, cancer, arthritis, strokes, and heart disease. The defendants will turn over all of their frozen assets to settle the FTC’s charges.
DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE CONTRACTORS ARRESTED FOR CONSPIRING TO STEAL INFORMATION ON FUEL SUPPLY CONTRACTS
Two U.S. Department of Defense (“DOD”) contractors were arrested in New York City on January 6, 2008, and charged with conspiring to steal information relating to DOD contracts to supply fuel to DOD aircraft worldwide. Two contractor firms and a third individual are also charged with participating in the conspiracies. The Department said the conspiracies took place from about February 2005 to about July 2006.