On March 31, 2009, Sakae Someya, an executive at Hitachi Displays, Ltd. (“Hitachi”) was charged for participating in a conspiracy to suppress and eliminate competition in the Thin Film Transistor-Liquid Crystal Display (“TFT-LCD”) industry by fixing prices of TFT-LCD panels sold to Dell, Inc (“Dell”) for its use in notebook and desktop computers.
BRISTOL-MYERS TO PAY $2.1 MILLION FOR FAILURE TO DISCLOSE AGREEMENT TO DELAY GENERIC ENTRY OF PLAVIX
On March 26, 2009, Bristol-Myers Squibb Company ("BMS") agreed to pay a fine of $2.1 million for failing to inform the Federal Trade Commission of oral agreements reached with Apotex, Inc., regarding potential generic competition to its drug Plavix. BMS’s conduct violated a 2003 FTC Order and the Medicare Modernization Act, which requires that certain patent lawsuit settlment agreements be accurately reported to both the Commission and the U.S. Department of Justice ("DOJ"). The complaint alleges that BMS failed to disclose that, as part of a patent settlement in which Apotex agreed not to launch its generic version of Plavix for several years, BMS also orally said that it would not compete with Apotex during the first 180 days after Apotex entered with its new generic drug.
On March 12, 2009, the most significant amendments in 20 years to Canada’s Bill-C10 Competition Act and Investment Canada Act received Royal assent. All parts of the Bill C-10 amendment will take immediate effect except the new hybrid/dual track conspiracy provisions which will be delayed for a year. Some of the provisions that will have immediate effect include:
•“two-stage” merger review based on the US
•a size of transaction threshold increase during pre-merger notification
•decriminalization of predatory pricing, price discrimination, and promotional allowances
•a substantial increase in monetary penalties for the abuse of dominance and penalties for deceptive marketing practices and misleading advertising
On March 10, 2009, Hitachi Displays, Ltd (“Hitachi”), a subsidiary of Hitachi Ltd (a Japanese electronics manufacturer), pled guilty and agreed to pay a fine of $31 million for its role in a conspiracy to fix the prices of Thin Film Transistor-Liquid Crystal Display panels (“TFT-LCD”) sold to Dell Inc. (“Dell”).
On March 6, 2009, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) ordered Whole Foods Market, Inc. (“Whole Foods”) to divest 32 Wild Oats Markets, Inc. (“Wild Oats”) stores and related assets, which will restore competition in 17 markets.
Whole Foods is the largest premium natural and organic supermarket chain in the United States and Wild Oats is its closest competitor.
On March 4, 2009, the National Association of Music Merchants (“NAMM”) agreed to a Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) consent order settling charges of NAMM’s conduct that enhanced members’ ability to increase prices of musical instruments.
NAMM is a trade association of U.S. manufacturers, distributors, and dealers of musical instruments. As a trade association, its purpose is to facilitate promotion of consumer demand for musical instruments by lobbying the government, offering seminars, promoting music education, and organizing trade shows.
On March 2, 2009, President Obama appointed Jon Leibowitz as Chairman of the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”).
Mr. Leibowitz became a Commissioner at the FTC in September 2004. He was formerly the Democratic chief counsel and staff director for the U.S. Senate Antitrust Subcommittee from 1997 to 2000, focusing on competition policy and telecommunications matters. Leibowitz was chief counsel and staff director for the Senate Subcommittee on Terrorism and Technology from 1995 to 1996, and for the Senate Subcommittee on Juvenile Justice from 1991 to 1994. He also served as chief counsel to Senator Herb Kohl from 1989 to 2000, and he worked for Senator Paul Simon from 1986 to 1987. In the private sector, Leibowitz served as vice president for congressional affairs for the Motion Picture Association of America from 2000 to 2004, and worked as an attorney in private practice in Washington from 1984 to 1986.