Earlier this week, the Supreme Court passed on reviewing U.S. antitrust law reach in sanctioning foreign defendants for price-fixing activities outside of the United States and did so without comment.
According to The Wall Street Journal’s coverage, one appeal was from AU Optronics Corp. The Taiwanese technology company and two former senior executives contended that U.S. courts had overextended the American antitrust law into foreign jurisdictions.
In 2012, AUO and the two executives were convicted for participating in an LCD price-fixing conspiracy. The company was received a $500 million fine and both executives faced three years in prison. The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco upheld the convictions in 2014.
Meanwhile, the second appeal was just the opposite from the first. In a private civil lawsuit, Motorola Mobility contended “judges hadn’t extended U.S. law far enough to protect the U.S. market from price-fixing in other countries.” The phone maker wished to collect damages from AUO and other LCD makers, alleging it had overpaid for the product due to cartel activity. The Seventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago asserted that the claims did not have a place in U.S. courts. In 2014, a three-judge Seventh Circuit panel found the antitrust claims were weak because the “LCD screens were made in Asia and delivered to Asian subsidiaries of Motorola before they were installed in phones that later were shipped to the U.S. market.”
Of note, per The Wall Street Journal, was that this was the panel’s second review of this case, and that its decision replaced an earlier, more broadly written opinion. The first opinion, according to U.S. antitrust enforcers, “could have hampered their ability to prosecute firms and executives who fixed prices abroad.”
One commenter to The Wall Street Journal’s piece stated that the high court “got it right for now.” Do you agree? Please share your own comment below.