Antitrust and tech is in the legal news almost daily, and often multiple times a day.  Here are a few recent developments with notable implications that may have flown under the radar: 1) renewed focus on gig economy issues; 2) potential enforcement efforts regarding director overlaps; and 3) challenges to MFN pricing. 

The Gig Economy.  The FTC recently announced its enforcement priority to protect gig workers from issues such as anticompetitive wage fixing and coordination between gig economy companies.  While not be solely tech focused, many tech companies, big and small, are based on the gig economy, often creating gig economies of their own. Indeed, 16% of Americans report having earned money from an online gig platform.  In its statement, the FTC noted three main areas of focus: 1) claims and conduct regarding the costs and benefits of gig work; 2) contract terms, including any restrictive terms limiting the ability to seek other jobs; and 3) wage, benefits or fee fixing. The statement notes the prominent role of technology in the gig economy, including managing the gig work force through artificial intelligence or algorithms. And as part of the FTC’s announcement, Elizabeth Wilkins (Director of the FTC’s Office of Policy Planning) seemingly called out tech companies, saying, “Technological advances and novel business models are no license to commit unfair, deceptive, or anticompetitive practices.” 

Director Overlaps.  In another issue that impacts tech and traditional companies alike, the DOJ has doubled down on its enforcement efforts relating to oft-ignored Section 8 of the Clayton Act and its prohibition (with a few exceptions) on director overlaps between competitors.  Today, many private equity companies have stakes in competing “portfolio” companies, and with stakes comes some say in corporate governance. Expressing concern about the amount of common control – or even the impact of incentives – that can arise from private equity cross-ownership, the DOJ has begun issuing letters and opening investigations triggered by information disclosed in HSR flings, and sometimes public SEC filing.  The letters warn that enforcement may be initiated with respect to alleged Section 8 violations.

MFN Pricing.  Amazon doesn’t ever truly fly under the radar. But it has largely avoided the high-profile antitrust cases that its Big Tech brethren have faced. Until now. This past year, state enforcement agencies took the lead in challenging Amazon’s third-party seller contracts and policies, which according to the recent lawsuits, bar third-party sellers from offering lower prices or better terms on sites outside Amazon.com.  Lawsuits filed by the Washington D.C. and California Attorneys General allege that Amazon’s restrictive policies impede competition and harm consumers because they keep prices artificially high through charging third-party sellers high fees.  In March 2022, the Superior Court of the District of Columbia dismissed the D.C. lawsuit for failure adequately allege anticompetitive effects. That decision is under appeal, and not long after, California filed its lawsuit in state court under a different and broader set of laws – the Cartwright Act and California’s Unfair Competition Law – presumably in an effort to avoid the same fate as Washington D.C.  If California’s suit is successful, it may spur increased attention and litigation under state-specific antitrust laws going forward.

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Photo of Colin Kass Colin Kass

Colin Kass is a partner in the Litigation Department and co-chair of the Antitrust Group, and a member of the Firm’s cross-disciplinary, cross-jurisdictional Coronavirus Response Team. An experienced antitrust and commercial litigation lawyer, Colin has litigated cases before federal and state courts throughout…

Colin Kass is a partner in the Litigation Department and co-chair of the Antitrust Group, and a member of the Firm’s cross-disciplinary, cross-jurisdictional Coronavirus Response Team. An experienced antitrust and commercial litigation lawyer, Colin has litigated cases before federal and state courts throughout the United States and before administrative agencies. His practice involves a wide range of industries and spans the full-range of antitrust and unfair competition-related litigation, including class actions, competitor suits, dealer/distributor termination suits, price discrimination cases, criminal price-fixing investigations, and merger injunctions.

Colin also has extensive experience dealing with the Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice in obtaining clearance for competitively-sensitive transactions and handling anticompetitive practices investigations. His practice also includes counseling clients on their sales, distribution, and marketing practices, strategic ventures, and general antitrust compliance.

Photo of John R. Ingrassia John R. Ingrassia

John is a partner at the Firm, advising on the full range of foreign investment and antitrust matters across industries, including chemicals, pharmaceutical, medical devices, telecommunications, financial services consumer goods and health care. He is the first call clients make in matters relating…

John is a partner at the Firm, advising on the full range of foreign investment and antitrust matters across industries, including chemicals, pharmaceutical, medical devices, telecommunications, financial services consumer goods and health care. He is the first call clients make in matters relating to competition and antitrust, CFIUS or foreign investment issues.

For more than 25 years, John has counselled businesses facing the most challenging antitrust issues and helped them stay out of the crosshairs — whether its distribution, pricing, channel management, mergers, acquisitions, joint ventures, or price gouging compliance.

John’s practice focuses on the analysis and resolution of CFIUS and antitrust issues related to mergers, acquisitions, and joint ventures, and the analysis and assessment of pre-merger CFIUS and HSR notification requirements. He advises clients on issues related to CFIUS national security reviews, and on CFIUS submissions when non-U.S. buyers seek to acquire U.S. businesses that have national security sensitivities.  He also regularly advises clients on international antitrust issues arising in proposed acquisitions and joint ventures, including reportability under the EC Merger Regulation and numerous other foreign merger control regimes.

His knowledge, reputation and extensive experience with the legal, practical, and technical requirements of merger clearance make him a recognized authority on Hart-Scott-Rodino antitrust merger review. John is regularly invited to participate in Federal Trade Commission and bar association meetings and takes on the issues of the day.

Photo of David Munkittrick David Munkittrick

David Munkittrick is a litigator and trial attorney. His practice focuses on complex and large-scale antitrust, copyright and entertainment matters in all forms of dispute resolution and litigation, from complaint through appeal.

David has been involved in some of the most significant antitrust…

David Munkittrick is a litigator and trial attorney. His practice focuses on complex and large-scale antitrust, copyright and entertainment matters in all forms of dispute resolution and litigation, from complaint through appeal.

David has been involved in some of the most significant antitrust matters over the past few years, obtaining favorable results for Fortune 500 companies and other clients in bench and jury trials involving price discrimination and group boycott claims. His practice includes the full range of antitrust matters and disputes: from class actions to competitor suits and merger review. David advises antitrust clients in a range of industries, including entertainment, automotive, pharmaceutical, healthcare, agriculture, hospitality, financial services, and sports.

David also advises music, publishing, medical device, sports, and technology clients in navigating complex copyright issues and compliance. He has represented some of the most recognized names in entertainment, including Sony Music Entertainment, Lady Gaga, U2, Madonna, Daft Punk, RCA Records, BMG Music Publishing, Live Nation, the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, Universal Music Group and Warner/Chappell.

David maintains an active pro bono practice, supporting clients in the arts and in immigration proceedings. He has been repeatedly recognized as Empire State Counsel by the New York State Bar Association for his pro bono service, and is a recipient of Proskauer’s Golden Gavel Award for excellence in pro bono work.

When not practicing law, David spends time practicing piano. He recently made his Carnegie Hall debut at Weill Recital Hall with a piano trio and accompanying a Schubert lieder.

David frequently speaks on antitrust and copyright issues, and has authored or co-authored numerous articles and treatise chapters, including:

  • Causation and Remoteness, the U.S. Perspective, in GCR Private Litigation Guide.
  • Data Breach Litigation Involving Consumer Class Actions, in Proskauer on Privacy: A Guide to Privacy and Data Security Law in the Information Age.
  • Location Privacy: Technology and the Law, in Proskauer on Privacy: A Guide to Privacy and Data Security Law in the Information Age.
  • FTC Enforcement of Privacy, in Proskauer on Privacy: A Guide to Privacy and Data Security Law in the Information Age.
  • The Role of Experts in Music Copyright Cases, Intellectual Property Magazine.
  • Nonprofit Education: A Historical Basis for Tax Exemption in the Arts, 21 NYSBA Ent., Arts, & Sports L.J. 67
  • A Founding Father of Modern Music Education: The Thought and Philosophy of Karl W. Gehrkens, Journal of Historical Research in Music Education
  • Jackson Family Wines, Inc. v. Diageo North America, Inc. Represented Diageo in trademark infringement litigation
Photo of Amy Gordon Amy Gordon

Amy Gordon is an associate in the Litigation Department and a member of the Product Liability group. Amy’s practice focuses on a wide range of complex civil and commercial litigation matters, including product liability defense, class action defense, privacy and data security, and…

Amy Gordon is an associate in the Litigation Department and a member of the Product Liability group. Amy’s practice focuses on a wide range of complex civil and commercial litigation matters, including product liability defense, class action defense, privacy and data security, and telecommunications disputes. She is also a member of the litigation team representing the Financial Oversight and Management Board in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico’s bankruptcy proceedings.

In addition, Amy advises clients across industries on economic sanctions and asset forfeiture related issues.

Amy earned her J.D. from the University of Texas School of Law, where she was a Cybersecurity Graduate Fellow and served as Chief Notes Editor for The Review of Litigation.  During law school, Amy interned for the Honorable Nicholas G. Garaufis in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York.

Photo of Reut N. Samuels Reut N. Samuels

Reut is an associate in the Litigation Department and a member of the Antitrust Practice and Asset Management Groups. During her time at the firm, she spent a five-month secondment working pro bono for the City of New York in the Torts Division…

Reut is an associate in the Litigation Department and a member of the Antitrust Practice and Asset Management Groups. During her time at the firm, she spent a five-month secondment working pro bono for the City of New York in the Torts Division, Special Litigation Unit.

Reut earned her J.D. from New York University School of Law and her B.S. from Cornell University. During law school, she worked at the US Attorney’s Office, Criminal Division in the Southern District of New York, as well as at the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office. Reut served as an Articles Editor for the Journal of Legislation and Public Policy.