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US: SCOTUS will not review foreign reach of US Antitrust Law

 |  June 15, 2015

The US Supreme Court on Monday refused to grant review of two antitrust cases based on the same basic facts about an illegal price-fixing cartel among foreign manufacturers of liquid-crystal display screens.

In one case, AU Optronics and two employees had asked the justices to reverse a 2014 ruling by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that affirmed their conviction for violating U.S. antitrust laws.

In the other, Motorola Mobility appealed the 7th Circuit’s holding that it cannot claim private damages from cartel members on behalf of foreign Motorola subsidiaries that spent about $5 billion on overpriced LCD screens installed in devices sold in the United States.

Both the 9th and 7th Circuit decisions addressed how U.S. antitrust laws – in particular the Foreign Trade Antitrust Improvements Act of 1982 – apply to transactions involving foreign defendants.

The 9th Circuit upheld punishment for a foreign cartel member found to be selling goods that directly affected American commerce but the 7th Circuit let the same cartel member off the hook.

The 7th Circuit found Motorola couldn’t meet the test: Although the price-fixing cartel’s actions directly affected US consumers who bought the devices with overpriced screens, any antitrust injury to Motorola occurred abroad, when its foreign subsidiaries bought the component parts.

The high court denied Motorola’s appeal without comment. The 7th Circuit’s view of private rights to sue over illegal foreign cartels remains the prevailing interpretation.

Full content: The Wall Street Journal

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