Distribution, Competition, and Antitrust / Intellectual Property (IP) Law

Focus and Purpose

Focus

This legal blog focuses on antitrust, competition, and distribution law issues (including in, but not limited to, intellectual property (“IP”) markets and related markets).  These issues are important to you if:

You have a large market position and might be subject to the special rules that govern monopolies.

You are a smaller competitor or a new entrant and you are dealing with a monopolist or would-be monopolist, either in a primary market or an aftermarket.

You either own intellectual property, and have questions about the limits of what you can do with it, or you are dealing with a firm that owns IP and is using it in ways you find objectionable and potentially anti-competitive.

You are a competitor of another firm or firms and you have contacts with them, either informally, at trade association meetings, or as part of some sort of venture or other cooperative endeavor.  Or you are a customer of firms which you believe have coordinated prices, output, markets, or customers.

You are a manufacturer or franchisor and you have wholesalers or retailers, a dealer or distributor for a manufacturer or for other wholesalers, or a retailer or a franchisee.  In all these cases, relationships between and among the various levels of the distribution chain can raise antitrust and competition law issues.  Pricing issues can be especially sensitive.

You are a consumer and you are interested in the laws governing the relationships among manufacturers, wholesalers, dealers, and retailers.

Or, you just have a geeky interest in these issues.

If you fall into one of these categories, there are many laws that are relevant and important.  Not paying attention to them could expose you to liability.

Some of the laws that are relevant in this area include the federal Sherman and Clayton Acts; the Robinson-Patman Act; state antitrust and unfair competition laws, including California’s Cartwright Act and California’s Unfair Competition Law (UCL); franchise and business opportunity laws; and plain old contract and Uniform Commercial Code law.

February 2012 Update: Going forward, I intend on a realtime basis to try to track Northern District of California competition law decisions, and provide brief and timely updates.  If all goes well, I may expand this feature to cover state courts in Northern California as well, and perhaps later on even expand further.

Hopefully, these posts will be a useful resource.  The Northern District of California has been an important court for the development of antitrust law, especially in connection with the many high-tech companies and industries found within its jurisdiction.  So providing ongoing coverage of its opinions seems worthwhile.

Although some other publications cover antitrust decisions nationwide, I have not yet seen one focused geographically in this manner.  Also, I plan on covering decisions relating to antitrust cases that do not raise purely antitrust issues — e.g., personal jurisdiction decisions or evidence decisions.  Additionally, I plan to update within a day or two of each decision, which I believe is faster than some other publications’ schedules.

I will omit coverage of cases with which I have some connection.

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This blog will also from time-to-time discuss iOS, lawyer tech, and other geeky technology and technology market issues.

All original content copyright © 2011-2013 by Howard M. Ullman.

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