By Nicole D. Prysby, J.D.
The Justice Department says that the terms of the antitrust judgments have been fulfilled, defendants likely no longer exist, they prohibit acts already prohibited by law, or they concern expired patents.
Pursuant to its recent program to review and terminate legacy judgments, the Justice Department has moved to terminate 24 antitrust orders entered in federal district court in Massachusetts. The Justice Department cites several reasons for the motion, including that the terms of the judgments have been fulfilled, defendants likely no longer exist, they prohibit acts already prohibited by law, or they concern expired patents. According to the government, the judgments should therefore be terminated, as they no longer serve to protect competition. One of the defendants is The Gillette Company, which was bound by a 1975 final judgment (U.S. v. Massachusetts Food Council, Inc., Case 1:19-mc-91219-ADB).
The Department of Justice Antitrust Division noted that the age of the judgments (entered from 43 to 77 years ago) alone would create a presumption that they should be terminated. However, the judgments should also be terminated at this time because they are unnecessary, in that the terms of the judgments have been fulfilled, most defendants likely no longer exist, they prohibit acts already prohibited by law, or concern expired patents. The Justice Department submitted a summary of reasons for termination for each case. In four cases (relating to fuel oil, footwear, retail-outlet gasoline, and electric shavers), the terms of the judgment have been satisfied, mainly by divestitures that occurred years ago. In six cases (all more than 60 years old), the defendants have likely gone out of existence. In 15 cases, the judgments prohibit acts already prohibited by law, including price fixing, market allocation, group boycotts, and bid-rigging. One judgment (more than 68 years old) concerns outdated patents, which have expired. There has been no public opposition to termination.
Earlier termination efforts. The May 21 filing follows a May 16 filing by the Justice Department to terminate legacy antitrust judgments in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia. In April 2018, the Antitrust Division announced the process of retiring these legacy judgments. Judgments have already been terminated in the federal district courts for the District of Columbia and the Eastern District of Virginia.
Attorneys: R. Cameron Gower for U.S. Department of Justice.
Companies: Mass. Food Council, Inc.; Women’s Sportswear Mfrs. Ass’n; Lawrence Fuel Oil Inst., Inc.; Lowell Fuel Oil Dealer Assocs.; Haverhill Fuel Oil Dealers’ Ass’n; Concrete Form Ass’n of Central New Eng.; Gold Filled Mfrs. Ass’n; New Eng. Concrete Pipe Corp.; Whitin Bus. Equip. Corp.; Lake Asphalt & Petroleum Co. of Mass.; Allied Chemical Corp.; Bituminous Concrete Assn.; Allied Appliance Co.; Asiatic Petroleum Corp.; Converse Rubber Corp.; Cities Service Co., Gillette Co.
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