In House: Securities & Antitrust Archives
In House - The FindLaw Corporate Counsel Blog

Recently in Securities & Antitrust Category

One of the most infuriating things about the 2008 subprime mortgage crisis and subsequent collapse of the economy was the absolute lack of accountability. Banks and big businesses were bailed out, nearly nobody was charged with crimes, and the executives who caused the whole mess continued on with massive salaries -- especially Jamie Dimon, who received a 74 percent raise after JPMorgan Chase agreed to a $13 billion (on paper) settlement with the government.

Now, with the settlement booked, and the statutes of limitations nearing their end dates, Alayne Fleischmann, the lawyer who was the key witness used to leverage the settlement, has come forward in a Rolling Stone feature, hoping that it will pressure the Justice Department to prosecute those responsible -- those who allegedly intentionally packaged and mislabeled junk subprime mortgages before selling them to investors.

We covered the train wreck that was the launch of Battlefield 4 by gaming company Electronic Arts last year: Despite loads of hype and a ton of pre-release awards at the E3 industry tradeshow, the game's release was an unmitigated disaster. Servers crashed, the game was plagued with glitches, online play was nearly unplayable. The issues weren't sorted out for months, other projects were delayed as a result, and sales across the board suffered.

A lawsuit was unsurprising, but the issue wasn't the glitchy game (at least not directly). Instead, stockholders sued over the company's allegedly misleading statements, claiming that EA defrauded investors while insiders sold off their shares of company stock. Unfortunately for the current plaintiffs, their case was as inadequate as Battlefield 4 was.

However, it's not game over yet: An amended complaint could revive some of the claims.

The date is set. The witnesses are being prepped. And the lawyers are under more pressure than ever to come up with a reasonable settlement.

Have you been missing out on the real-life Silicon Valley drama (as opposed to the hilarious HBO dramedy)? Apple, Intel, Google, and Adobe allegedly agreed to not poach each others' talent, creating the sort of anticompetitive agreement that depresses salaries.

Though initial estimates of the companies' exposure were in the billions range, the companies settled for ... $324 million, a number that made us get our eyes checked, caused one plaintiff to file a formal rejection, and which U.S. District Court Judge Lucy Koh soundly rejected.

Will we see another settlement, or will his head to trial in early January?

Keurig 2.0. It's the new version of Keurig's ubiquitous pod-based single-serve coffee machines. What's the 2.0 about? The machines come with DRM protection and the ability to brew larger pots.

DRM, if you're unfamiliar, stands for Digital Rights Management. In plain English, Keurig 2.0 machines will only take Keurig-authorized cups which have a special ink marker on their foil tops, reports The Verge. Except, that DRM may have already been broken by rival companies before the 2.0 machines even hit the market.

Unless the announced product was created pursuant to a licensing agreement, we could be looking at yet another round of Keurig in the courtroom.

More than a year later, Apple has finally taken a judge's advice and settled its long-running e-books price-fixing antitrust case -- pending further appeals. On the eve of the damages trial, Apple settled with the government for $450 million, $400 million of which goes to consumers. However, the settlement is conditioned on Apple not losing its appeals, appeals which could reduce the settlement to $70 million or, if Apple gets truly lucky, nothing at all.

That last part seems unlikely, however. If you recall, the government had a ton of evidence, including emails from the late Steve Jobs. The evidence was so compelling that the trial judge warned Apple, on the eve of the merits trial, that it would be best to settle.

Steve Jobs may have been a genius, but he was an idiot about discussing anti-competitive behaviors over email. His emails were one of the deciding factors in the Apple e-book lawsuit (Apple lost) and now, his words are haunting his friends in the tech industry in a different anticompetitive case: the non-poaching pact class action that first made headlines late last year.

In October, the all-knowing, all-seeing Judge Lucy Koh allowed the lawsuit to proceed, and now, six months later, the parties are entering into intense settlement negotiations, with figures like $9 billion being floated around (and scoffed at by the tech companies). Laugh now, pay later, because the eDiscovery evidence seems damning.

It's like the script of a bad movie.

One man, a Touro Law Center graduate (Google it -- it exists), worked as a career managing law clerk at BigLaw mergers and acquisitions powerhouse Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP. You can probably guess where this is going.

He'd allegedly pass along tips to a friend, who passed them to a broker, and eventually, someone noticed and the friend turned state's witness. The only surprising part of the story is the lengths that they went to to avoid getting caught.

Keurig, a subdivision of Green Mountain Coffee, makes single-cup pod-style coffee makers. Until 2011, they held 100 percent of the legitimate market, as they had a patent on the cups.

Until 2011.

And late last year, Green Mountain's attempt to use method patents to stop the burgeoning third-party pod market was shot down by the Federal Circuit, putting the company's $2.4 billion cash cow at risk. The Federal Circuit called the strategy an "end-run around exhaustion," dismissing the company's argument that their method patents applied to the brewers, end-users were violating those patents, and that competitors were inducing infringement.

On January 22, 2014, Maxim Marketing sued ConAgra and Trader Joes' for breach of contract regarding one of our personal favorite salty/sweet snacks -- peanut butter-filled pretzels -- in Los Angeles Superior Court (case number BC533822), reports the Los Angeles Business Journal. How could something so delicious stir up so much controversy?

Easy -- it all comes down to money.

To us gamers, Battlefield has long occupied the second-fiddle status to Activision's Call of Duty franchise. Think Pepsi to Coke, market-wise. But Battlefield 4 had a chance to be different. With the release of two new gaming consoles, the Xbox One and the PlayStation 4, this was a new war altogether, and BF4 was shaping up to be a contender, with 21 awards at the annual E3 tradeshow, including GameSpot's Best of E3 award.

On November 15, the game dropped for the PlayStation 4, both literally and figuratively, and a week later for the Xbox One. Gameplay was plagued with glitches, online play (the core feature of the game) was unreliable, and made worse by a Distributed Denial of Service (DDOS) attack that crashed the servers.

In retrospect, the game wasn't ready for release. The flaws were so bad that EA had to pull programmers off of other games, and delay other releases, to work on fixing the glitches. This, of course, hurts sales for both BF4 and the other delayed games.