Over the past year, the most significant antitrust developments were sparked by the new and expanding investigations into Big Technology as well as a continued focus on merger enforcement at the U.S. Department of Justice, Antitrust Division (DOJ) and Federal Trade Commission (FTC). In addition, the U.S. Supreme Court established a bright-line carve-out for indirect purchasers claims under the seminal Illinois Brick doctrine. We examine these current trends and developments, and other noteworthy decisions in the areas of telecommunications, cable and the Internet, transportation, and oil and gas.
A. Developments in Telecommunications, Cable, and the Internet
1. Developments in Qualcomm’s Allegedly Anticompetitive Licensing Practices
Qualcomm Inc. has spent several years embroiled in litigation related to its “no license, no chips” policies. Qualcomm manufactures modem chips and licenses the patents related to those chips. Its customers, rivals, and FTC have all questioned the legality of Qualcomm conditioning the purchases of its chips on the simultaneous licensing of its standard essential patents (SEPs). If chip purchasers did not agree to licensing the SEPs, they would risk a patent infringement suit.