Friday, January 17, 2003

The D.C Court of Appeals today issued an opinion concerning the extraterritorial reach of the U.S. antitrust laws. In Empagran S.A. v. F. Hoffman-Laroche, Ltd., a divided panel of that court rejected the approach previously taken by a divided Fifth Circuit panel in Den Norske Stats Oljeselskap As v. Heeremac Vof, 241 F.3d 420 (5th Cir. 2001), agreeing instead with the dissent voiced by Fifth Circuit Judge Pat Higginbotham in the earlier case. Under the Higginbotham/Empagran majority's interpretation of the Foreign Trade Antitrust Improvements Act, when anticompetitive conduct has the requisite harm on United States commerce, FTAIA permits suits by foreign plaintiffs who are injured solely by that conduct's effect on foreign commerce. The anticompetitive conduct itself must violate the Sherman Act and the conduct's harmful effect on United States commerce must give rise to "a claim" by someone, even if not the foreign plaintiff who is before the court. In reversing the district court's dismissal, the court of appeals also rejected the defendants' argument that the foreign plaintiffs lacked "antitrust injury," and thus standing to sue.

According to this story in Wired News, the General Accounting Office estimates that the Department of Homeland Security will spend almost $6 billion on information technology in its first two years.

Slate's Michael Kinsley expounds on the administration's tax proposal.

As reported by Wired News, "Total Information Awareness" is under challenge on Capitol Hill by several public interest groups as well as by three separate bills seeking to ban or suspend the program.

In today's NYT, Paul Krugman is wistful for "Rubinomics."

Thursday, January 16, 2003

According to this story in the San Francisco Chronicle, Microsoft has announced a 2-for-1 stock split and a post-split dividend of 8 cents per share--its first ever.

Professor Lawrence Lessig's take on the Supreme Court's decision in Eldred.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that the Federal Reserve's most recent Beige Book, released this week, reflects that although the economy remains shaky, there appears to be some improvement in business spending for technology.

As reported in this story from the Boston Globe, US District Judge J. Frederick Motz has given Microsoft 120 days in which to make Sun's Java available in Microsoft's Windows operating system. Judge Motz later told lawyers for the parties that he would stay his ruling for two weeks in order to allow an appeal of the ruling.

Wednesday, January 15, 2003

According to this AP report in Salon, the White House is estimating federal budget deficits in the range of $200-300 million over the next two years.

According to this story in the San Jose Mercury News, Silicon Valley venture capitalists are in the midst of the worst slump in at least three decades, and the situation isn't expected to improve any time soon.

This story from InfoWorld reports on recent testimony by FCC Chairman Michael Powell before the U.S. Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee concerning competition for local telephone service.

As reported by Wired News, Microsoft has announced a program to make the code for its Windows operating system available for viewing by several governments and governmental agencies.

The Supreme Court upheld by a vote of 7-2 the constitutionality of the 1998 Copyright Term Extention Act.

Tuesday, January 14, 2003

Here is an article by Daniel Gross in Slate explaining how stock options might be expected to "handcuff" the advertised dividend-liberating feature of the administration's proposed stimulus package.

This UPI story reports on a "digital detente" reached between record companies and technology companies concerning copying of copyrighted material.

The Boston Globe reports that Judge Kollar-Kotelly refused permission for the Computer & Communications Industry Association and the Software & Information Industry Association to appeal the government's antitrust lawsuit against Microsoft.

This story in today's SJMN reports that lawyers are planning on filing thousands of arbitration claims complaining of research reports issued by brokerage firms.

In this op-ed piece in today's NYT, Paul Krugman explains that the benefits of the administration's proposed dividend plan would accrue chiefly to the very rich and to tax lawyers.

As reported in the San Jose Mercury News, several critics, including John Perry Barlow of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Apple Corporation, have weighed in against the settlement of California class action antitrust lawsuits against Microsoft Corporation.

Today's New York Times reports on the debate over who would bear the brunt of the burden under the administration's proposed tax plan. On that topic, Richard Cohen explains "trickle up" economics in this January 9 Washington Post column.

Monday, January 13, 2003

Threat of war as antitrust policy? According to this story reported in USAToday and elsewhere, OPEC has announced its intention to raise oil production 6.5% in an attempt to reassure markets and bring prices below the cartel's $28 benchmark. Evidently, the markets were unimpressed.

In this Reuters report, former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill is quoted as saying that the Bush Administration chose a "different direction" than O'Neill would have taken with the proposed stimulus package.

Citing Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan for the proposition that the antitrust laws are a "jumble of economic irrationality and ignorance," this article by Robert Levy of The Cato Institute calls for the repeal of U.S antitrust law, "sooner rather than later."

According to this story in the San Jose Mercury News, Microsoft has agreed to pay as much as $1.1 billion in vouchers to millions of California consumers, settling antitrust class-action lawsuits alleging that Microsoft overcharged for software. On the topic of settlements, here's a story from the Houston Chronicle on the recent settlement of an antitrust case in which the author was involved on the plaintiffs' side.

Reuters reports that the Supreme Court has refused review of a $1 billion antitrust award against UST Inc., in a suit brought by its rival Conwood, which accused UST of misleading retailers to secure prime display space. Conwood also alleged that UST sales staff obscured competitors' brands or removed competitors' display racks. The judgment was challenged on Daubert grounds, among others.

Coda to the Internet bubble? This front page NYT story reports on Steve Case's resignation as Chairman of AOL Time Warner. According to the story, he will retain his seat as a board member. Although the bubble may have burst, this piece from Sunday's NYT reports that the number of U.S. families with a net worth in excess of $1 million has risen to 4.8 million, while almost 3 million families have a reported net income of $200,000 or more.

As reported by ABC News, one of the steps the Republican-controlled Congress took after regaining control of both houses was to roll back several ethical reforms.

Sunday, January 12, 2003

Here is a link to a review in today's New York Times Book Review of a new book on President Bush's "really deep" Southern strategy. And here is Paul Krugman's take on the competing stimulus packages.

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