June Antitrust Bulletin

June 13, 2016

Staples and Office Depot Drop $6.3 Billion Merger

On May 10, 2016, Judge Emmet Sullivan of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia granted the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC’s) motion for a preliminary injunction enjoining the merger between Staples and Office Depot. The decision comes after a two-week hearing that ended April 5, 2016. In its order, the court explained that the FTC met its burden of showing that “there is a reasonable probability that the proposed merger will substantially impair competition in the sale and distribution of consumable office supplies to large business-to-business customers.” As a result, Staples and Office Depot said they would drop their $6.3 billion merger.

ASCAP to Pay $1.75 Million to Settle Claims Related to Exclusive Contracts

On May 12, 2016, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) agreed to pay $1.75 million and reform its practices to settle allegations that it violated a previous antitrust settlement. The DOJ claimed that ASCAP entered into approximately 150 exclusive licensing agreements with songwriters and music publishers in violation of the terms of the court-ordered consent decree designed to prevent anticompetitive effects arising from ASCAP’s licensing practices. The proposed settlement also requires ASCAP to adopt a revamped compliance program to minimize the likelihood of future violations. The proposed settlement is subject to approval.

Executive Indicted, Corporation Fined $66.5 Million in Automotive Parts Conspiracy

On May 16, 2016, the DOJ announced that Corning International Kabushiki Kaisha (Corning International K.K.) has agreed to plead guilty and pay a $66.5 million criminal fine for conspiring to fix prices, rig bids and allocate the market for ceramic substrates sold in the United States and elsewhere. Corning International K.K. agreed to cooperate in the department’s ongoing investigation and the plea agreement will be subject to court approval. This news comes on the heels of the May 11, 2016, indictment of the company’s former executive for his role in the automotive parts conspiracy. Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brent Snyder of the DOJ’s Antitrust Division stated, “[The] indictment reaffirms our commitment to vigorously prosecute corporate executives who scheme to harm their customers, such as those in the U.S. auto industry.”

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