Antitrust Counseling & Litigation

Competition Policy

With a renewed emphasis on aggressive antitrust enforcement by the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission, as well as with an increasingly litigious commercial culture, businesses today face a growing challenge in navigating federal, state, and even international antitrust and competition laws. Because these laws can hinder commercial transactions, impose treble damages for even technical violations, and, in some circumstances, lead to criminal liability, the stakes are frequently high. Addressing the requirements of the antitrust laws correctly can sometimes mean the difference between commercial success and jail.

Beginning in the 1950s with the famous Electrical Equipment Conspiracy cases, Edwin P. Rome established a robust antitrust practice at Blank Rome that encompassed both litigation of private and criminal antitrust matters, as well as counseling clients on transactional antitrust issues. That reputation for excellence continues to this day.

Antitrust Litigation and Investigations

Blank Rome has an extensive practice representing clients in private antitrust litigation, as well as clients accused of criminal violation of the antitrust laws. We have extensive experience with every type of private antitrust claim (both individual and class claims), including alleged price fixing, customer or territorial allocation, monopolization, tying, and predatory pricing claims, as well as defending against antitrust-related counterclaims in intellectual property and other commercial litigation. We handle a broad range of matters, from relatively simple cases asserting per se liability to those requiring sophisticated economic analysis to establish or defeat liability. In criminal matters, we marshal the talents of attorneys from our various offices and our diverse practice groups to provide comprehensive representation during all phases of criminal investigations, grand jury matters, trials, sentencings, and appeals.

Blank Rome also frequently represents clients in investigations and inquiries before various government agencies, including the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission, into alleged violations of the Sherman and Clayton antitrust acts and Section 5 of the FTC Act.

Select Engagements

  • Secured the acquittal of a former high-ranking insurance executive against criminal price-fixing and bid-rigging charges.
  • Secured the dismissal of a class action against major international airlines for alleged price-fixing in a market for airline tickets between Europe and Japan.
  • Obtained a “walk-away” settlement of patent infringement claims against a generic pharmaceutical manufacturer by raising monopolization allegations in counterclaims.
  • Defended a national sports league and member clubs in an action challenging the league’s sale of satellite television broadcasts of some of its member clubs’ games.
  • Represented a United States consumer electronics manufacturer in antitrust and anti-dumping claims brought against foreign consumer electronics cartel.
  • Represented defendants in private class actions alleging price-fixing in residential doors, plastic tableware, graphite electrodes, plastic additives, refrigerant compressors, and other products.
  • Worked with clients in the claims process to maximize benefits as class members in a class action litigation, including working with the plaintiffs’ counsel to enlist Firm clients as representative plaintiffs.
  • Defended a major aluminum producer against antitrust claims, including successful proceedings in the Supreme Court of the United States.
  • Defended a major concert promoter in a multidistrict, multiparty antitrust litigation charging the company with monopolization and exclusionary conduct.
  • Represented plaintiffs in a groundbreaking labor/antitrust/RICO treble-damage action against local unions involving antitrust, RICO, labor/secondary boycott claims, and involving the scope of First Amendment protection counteractions relating to union officials’ harassment of a residential developer by environmental-hazard leafleting at the residential development site.
  • Defended, among others, a producer of video games and a manufacturer of pet care products in Federal Trade Commission investigations.
  • Represented a computer disaster-recovery provider in a litigated merger case involving an acquisition of a competitor in simultaneous, parallel bankruptcy proceedings.

Antitrust Counseling

The best preemptive defense against antitrust litigation is ensuring in the first instance that antitrust laws are not violated in the course of everyday commercial conduct, or in the planning and execution of significant commercial transactions. Blank Rome provides a full range of counseling and compliance services needed to steer your business through the requirements of antitrust laws. We regularly counsel a diverse set of corporate and individual clients across a wide range of industries through the complexities of antitrust compliance, risk minimization, and transaction structuring. We have represented numerous companies in various industries, including maritime, banking, chemicals, consumer goods, pharmaceuticals, telecommunications, healthcare, and steelmaking, in connection with:

  • mergers and acquisitions
  • joint venture formation and operation
  • agreements among competitors (for example, joint purchasing, marketing, and development agreements)
  • downstream pricing and distribution issues
  • intellectual property licensing issues
  • exclusive dealing arrangements
  • bundling arrangements
  • membership in, and activities of, trade associations
  • patent pools
  • information exchanges

We also provide guidance concerning federal and state unfair competition and unfair trade practice issues, such as regulation of advertising and sales practices issues.

One of the principal areas in which we assist clients is the development of strategies related to mergers and acquisitions, and obtaining pre-merger clearance where necessary from government authorities. Our lawyers have sought Business Review Letters from the Department of Justice, have appeared before the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission in connection with merger investigations, and have responded to second requests following pre-merger filings under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976. Relying on the strength of our litigation department, we are prepared to vigorously contest governmental resistance to transactions where necessary.

Although we give advice and assist clients in complying with the American antitrust laws, we also have frequently coordinated the rendering of advice by lawyers in other jurisdictions in connection with international acquisitions and business activities.