Week Ahead in Antitrust: Oct. 25, 2021


(Reuters) - Here are some upcoming events of interest to the antitrust community. Unless otherwise noted, all times are local, and court appearances are virtual due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Monday, Oct. 25

8 a.m. - U.S. District Judge Philip Brimmer will preside over a criminal antitrust trial in which the U.S. Justice Department has alleged a bid-rigging and price-fixing conspiracy to reduce competition in the broiler chicken product market. The defendants include executives and sales managers at companies that produced broiler chicken products. Broiler chickens are raised to provide meat for human consumption. Defendants have denied any conspiracy. They argue in part that any sharing of pricing information can't on its own justify anticompetitive behavior.

The case is United States v. Jayson Penn, U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado, No. e 1:20-cr-00152-PAB.

For the United States: Laura Butte, Michael Koenig, Heather Call, Carolyn Sweeney and Paul Torzilli of the Justice Department.

For defendants: John Fagg Jr. of Moore & Van Allen; Michael Tubach of O'Melveny & Myers; Richard Kornfeld of Recht & Kornfeld; Michael Feldberg of Reichman Jorgensen Lehman & Feldberg; Bryan Lavine of Troutman Pepper Hamilton Sanders; Elizabeth Prewitt of Latham & Watkins; James Backstrom; Mark Byrne of Byrne & Nixon; Craig Gillen of Gillen, Withers & Lake; Barry Pollack of Robbins, Russell, Englert, Orseck & Untereiner.

9 a.m. - Jury selection is set to begin in TravelPass Group LLC's antitrust case against Marriott International Inc alleging a conspiracy among hotel chains and others to eliminate competition for online advertising from online travel agencies. TravelPass' business model relies on bids on "branded keyword search results" to entice hotel consumers on the web to view available rooms at various hotel chains. Marriott has denied any conspiracy to reduce competition and has asserted counterclaims alleging trademark infringement and other causes of action.

The case is TravelPass Group LLC et al. v. Marriott International Inc, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, No. 5:18-cv-00153-RWS-CMC.

For TravelPass Group LLC: Chris Schwegmann of Lynn Pinker Hurst & Schwegmann.

For Marriott: Lawyers from Haltom & Doan; Dechert; and Crowell & Moring

Tuesday, Oct. 26

10 a.m. - U.S. Magistrate Judge Virginia DeMarchi in San Jose, California, federal court will oversee a discovery hearing in a consumer antitrust case against Facebook Inc. The plaintiffs allege Facebook used "deceptively obtained data to identify competitors and inform acquisitions." Lawyers for Facebook have called the claims "unfounded and untimely." They've also chided plaintiffs' lawyers for alleged inefficiencies.

The case is Klein v. Facebook Inc, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, No. 5:20-cv-08570.

For consumer class: Stephen Swedlow of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, and Shana Scarlett of Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro.

For advertiser class: Yavar Bathaee of Bathaee Dunne, and Kristen Anderson of Scott + Scott Attorneys at Law.

For Facebook: Sonal Mehta, David Gringer and Ari Holtzblatt of Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr.

Wednesday, Oct. 27

10:30 a.m. - The American Bar Association will present an antitrust enforcement panel at the lawyer organization's annual white-collar conference. Wilson Sonsini partner Brent Snyder is on the panel with Wilmer Hale's Heather Nyong'o, who leads the firm's California antitrust and competition practice. Justice Department lawyer Richard Powers, acting head of the antitrust division, is also set to appear. The moderator is Andre Geverola, leader of the cartel investigations practice at Arnold & Porter. The panelists "will focus on emerging trends in the investigation, prosecution, and defense of corporations and individuals in criminal antitrust matters, including the proliferation of such cases with international ramifications and availability of deferred prosecution agreements, as well as the key components in developing an effective defense."

Find more information here.

Thursday, Oct. 28

1:30 p.m. - U.S. Magistrate Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley in San Francisco federal court will hold a case management conference in a civil antitrust lawsuit alleging unlawful agreements to restrain competition in the spot market for gasoline and gasoline blending components for use in California. The plaintiffs, alleging misconduct drove increases in costs, include consumers who purchased gasoline at retail during the class period. Lawyers for defendants contend the claims are unfounded and that "plaintiffs have overreached on the merits."

The case is In re: California Gasoline Spot Market Antitrust Litigation, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, No. 3:20-cv-03131-JSC.

For interim co-lead class counsel: Michael Lehmann of Hausfeld and Dena Sharp of Girard Sharp.

For defendant SK Energy Americas Inc: Jeffrey Davidson of Covington & Burling and Michael Martinez of K&L Gates.

For defendant Vitol Inc: Amanda Bonn of Susman Godfrey and John Quinn of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan.

3 p.m. - U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta has scheduled a status conference in the U.S. Justice Department's antitrust case against Alphabet's Google Inc. Mehta has been tasked in recent weeks with resolving discovery disputes involving third parties. The United States and third-party Samsung Electronics America Inc have been locked in a discovery dispute in recent weeks.

The case is United States v. Google, U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, No. 1:20-cv-03010.

For the United States: Kenneth Dintzer of the Justice Department.

For Google: John Schmidtlein of Williams & Connolly.

For Samsung: Juan Arteaga of Crowell & Moring.

Friday, Oct. 29

Apple Inc faces a deadline to file any reply brief bolstering the company's bid to freeze a judge's antitrust injunction pending appeal in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Apple on Oct. 8 asked a U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers to stay a ruling that could compel the company to change some of its App Store practices. Epic and Apple have both taken appeals to the 9th Circuit.

The case is Epic Games Inc v. Apple Inc, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Northern District of California, No. 4:20-cv-05640.

For Epic: Katherine Forrest of Cravath, Swaine & Moore.

For Apple: Mark Perry of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher.

Know of an event that could be included in Week Ahead in Antitrust? Contact Mike Scarcella at mike.scarcella@thomsonreuters.com.

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