Register for the Golden State Antitrust and Unfair Competition Law Institute

The 21st Annual Golden State Antitrust and Unfair Competition Law Institute is now open for registration.  This informative MCLE program is sponsored by the State Bar of California, Antitrust and Unfair Competition Law Section.  The full day Institute (followed by the Antitrust Lawyer of the Year Award Dinner) will take place on Thursday, October 27, 2011 at the Westin St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco.

View the complete program here.

View a printable brochure here.

Register here.

I attended this program last year as a speaker, and I can tell you from personal experience that the panels are heavy-duty stuff.

A little antitrust nugget in the movie theater business...

This one entertains me becaues it faintly evokes the studio system of the 1930's and the decades of antitrust action by the FTC, with United States v. Paramount Pictures, 334 U.S. 131 (1948) stealing a good deal of the spotlight.  It's not quite as big as Paramount, but it's what we have.  In Flagship Theaters of Palm Desert LLC v. Century Theaters, Inc. (August 31, 2011), the Court of Appeal (Second Appellate District, Division One) considered an appeal of a summary judgment ruling that ended Flagship's antitrust action.  The allegations were summarized by the Court:

Flagship filed this antitrust action against Century and two film distributors, alleging that Century has used the power deriving from both the size of its theater circuit and its many theaters in noncompetitive markets to undermine the competitive process through which theaters bid for and obtain licenses to exhibit first-run films. According to Flagship, under previous ownership the River and the Palme obtained roughly equal numbers of first-run films, but under Century the River now obtains licenses for far more first-run films than the Palme, the few that are left to the Palme are commercially inferior, and the imbalance is not based on the relative merits of the Palme's and the River's bids. On the contrary, according to Flagship, superior bids by the Palme are often rejected in favor of inferior bids by the River as a result of Century's abuse of the power of its circuit

Slip op., at 2.  I'm not going to cover the Court's interesting attempt to assess the current state of unlawful circuit dealing under the Sherman Act and the Cartwright Act.  But if you practice or dabble in antitrust law, this is like a brief history lesson centered around the movie distribution world.  I will note, however, that the Court wasn't thrilled with all of the sealed documents the Court received and later concluded were not appropriately classified as confidential.

This time it's the big corporation suing after a Justice Department anti-trust investigation: AT&T sues LCD manufacturers for price fixing

The AmLaw Litigation Daily, part of the network of websites, is reporting that AT&T (a collection of various AT&T entities) have filed "an antitrust suit filed against liquid crystal display screen makers after four LCD makers paid a historic $585 million in criminal antitrust fines last November."  Alison Frankel, Crowell & Moring Files AT&T's Antitrust Complaint Against Liquid Crystal Display Manufacturers (October 21, 2009)  According to the complaint, AT&T purchased over 300 million handsets with LCD screens (Paragraph 5) that were impacted by the alleged price-fixing conspiracy.  That does not include LCD panels purchased by AT&T in all other forms, including computer monitors used internally by AT&T.  As AmLaw notes, an antitrust suit by a corporate reseller is not something you see every day.

I guess this means that I paid too much for all of my LCD screens too.  If I didn't have the tail end of a cold, I'd be angry about that.  On a related note, I have to assume that, if there aren't consumer anti-trust suits on file yet, there will be soon.