Antitrust & Competition
Our clients range from multi-national and Fortune 50 corporations to middle-market companies and start-ups. We advise on all aspects of antitrust and competition law. We represent clients in:
- Private antitrust and related litigation, including industry-wide, multi-district class action litigation and parallel antitrust investigations;
- Federal and state enforcement agency actions before the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice (DOJ), the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and State Attorneys General;
- Antitrust aspects of mergers, acquisition and joint ventures, including the Hart-Scott-Rodino premerger review process;
- Government investigations and litigation involving mergers, acquisitions and other potentially anticompetitive conduct;
- Criminal grand jury and civil antitrust investigations; and
- Nationwide and statewide unfair competition and consumer class actions that involve claims arising under state unfair and deceptive practice statutes, and state consumer fraud actions.
We differentiate ourselves by:
- Keen understanding of the relationship between government and private enterprise, particularly in key emerging industries like health care, life sciences, energy, technology and financial services;
- Providing service at the nexus of business strategy and competition law by leveraging deep experience in our clients' industries to anticipate conflicts and position clients for success; and
- Leadership, particularly through involvement and participation in the State Bar of California Antirust and Unfair Competition Section, where our attorneys have held leadership positions over the last 20 years, including a current advisor and three former Chairs. Three Pillsbury partners have been named as the California Antitrust Lawyer of the Year.
Mergers, Acquisitions & Joint Ventures
We have successfully led the antitrust review process for hundreds of mergers, acquisitions and joint ventures. One of our attorneys is a former Attorney Advisor to a Federal Trade Commissioner. The team handles antitrust M&A and counseling matters on behalf of clients in a diverse range of industries, including healthcare, consumer and retail, industrial and materials, media and entertainment, and aviation.
We use our knowledge and experience of federal antitrust agencies and antitrust litigation experience to successfully navigate agency merger review. We understand how antitrust agencies approach merger analysis, emphasizing the application of complex economic analyses and prior agency experience, not just conventional case law. Our familiarity with agency thinking and with merging companies' business needs often enables our team to obtain prompt merger clearance without extended and costly investigation.
We represent both participants in joint ventures and the ventures themselves. We help clients analyze joint venture structures including LLCs, contractual collaborations, two-company partnerships and industry-wide development forums. We approach these ventures with the understanding that antitrust agencies' evaluation of joint ventures is based on economic analysis and agency lore rather than conventional case law.
Litigation & Investigations
Our attorneys represent clients in some of the most significant antitrust, unfair competition and trade regulation litigation. The team is distinguished by its experience with the complexities of antitrust litigation—and by its track record in securing favorable resolutions through successful litigation, negotiated settlements and jury trials. Our strengths include the efficient management of multi-district class action litigation and parallel criminal antitrust investigations. We also have significant experience handling antitrust proceedings involving the U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Trade Commission and U.S. Attorneys' Offices, regularly appearing in federal district courts, federal circuit courts of appeal and state courts across the country, and advocating before federal and state regulatory agencies and, states attorneys general.
We represent clients in private litigation involving claims such as price fixing, tying, boycotts, monopolization, unfair competition, misappropriation of trade secrets, breach of contract, trade libel, deceptive trade practices and other business torts.
Our team has strength in defending companies in consumer class actions that involve claims arising under state unfair and deceptive practice statutes, and state consumer fraud actions. We are particularly adept at quickly resolving claims brought under California Business and Profession's Code Section 17200. We have defended scores of 17200 class actions brought by private plaintiffs, the State Attorneys General, the FTC and other consumer protection agencies involving a wide array of consumer products from communications and financial services to hotel fees and charges, and internet services.
We also represent clients in a wide range of civil and criminal antitrust investigations, including those conducted by the DOJ, FTC and State Attorneys General.
Consumer Protection & Advertising
Our team has extensive experience with federal, state and local government inquiries into advertising and trade practices. We have counseled clients through a number of formal and informal investigations by the FTC, state attorneys general and district attorneys, structuring clients' responses and negotiating resolutions as appropriate. Recent inquiries have involved Internet security and privacy issues, regulatory compliance, substantiation of advertising claims, gift card and gift certificate practices, and cash rebate fulfillment practices.
Our work in advertising law includes:
- Advertising review. We collaborate with clients and their advertising agencies to identify vulnerabilities in claims, disclosures, advertisements, web content and marketing materials.
- Privacy. In an era of increased FTC focus on privacy issues, our lawyers have extensive experience drafting disclosure language and evaluating business processes involving the collection of consumer data. (See our Privacy & Data Protection practice.)
- False claims. We have resolved competitive disputes over false and misleading ads through the exchange of demand letters, through mediation by the National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus, and through Lanham Act litigation in federal courts.
The Antitrust & Competition team works with the firm's Public Policy group and other related practices to advocate on behalf of clients on proposed rulemakings and new legislation. We also advocate on behalf of clients seeking to block mergers and other transactions under review at federal agencies.
Antitrust and Intellectual Property
Drawing on extensive experience in antitrust and intellectual property law, our antitrust lawyers advise clients and litigate cases related to the interface between antitrust and intellectual property rights, including trade secrets, competitive business practices, methods for the protection of proprietary information, and trademark and copyright issues.
Counseling & Compliance
Seemingly routine business decisions can have significant antitrust ramifications. Pillsbury attorneys counsel corporate clients on high-level strategy and on-the-ground practices, including pricing and distribution, restraint of trade and sales-below-cost laws. We are active in industries ranging from petroleum products to health care to telecommunications to retail.
Our business practice counselors handle matters like:
- Compliance. We design and present training programs for compliance with state and federal antitrust requirements, and lead internal investigations into civil and criminal antitrust matters.
- Franchises. Our lawyers have a rare combination of experience representing both franchisors and franchisees. We use this knowledge of both sides of the table to draft distributor, dealer and franchise agreements that anticipate and address potential antitrust issues.
- Distribution. We draft dealer agreements that conform to state and federal laws governing fair distribution practices. Our recent work includes drafting dealer agreement forms that comply with California's AB 585 (2005), which amended the Business & Professional Code statutes on equipment manufacturers, distributors, wholesalers and dealers.
- Trade associations. We have experience counseling trade associations on the unique antitrust issues they face, such as formation and ongoing operations; disclosure and transparency issues; standards-setting processes; issue advocacy; and publications and surveys.
We have developed a niche strength in advising clients on international transactions, serving as lead antitrust coordinating counsel for foreign filings across the globe. The team is currently representing an international consumer and retail client with an acquisition in Israel; a client in the materials industry with an acquisition that has been filed with the U.S. FTC and in Poland, and soon will go on file in the Ukraine; a Japanese manufacturer of high end specialty battery inputs with filings in the EU, Taiwan, China, Brazil, and Korea; and several other clients pursuing proposed deals involving filings in Asia, Latin America and Europe.