Antitrust, UCL and Privacy

Competition: Fall 2014, Vol. 23, No. 2

PLAINTIFF PERSPECTIVE: THE LONG ARM OF STATE ANTITRUST LAW

By Marc A. Pilotin1

I. INTRODUCTION AND OVERVIEW

As manufacturing of consumer products and their component parts continues to move offshore,2 consumers face a greater risk of suffering injuries resulting from anticompetitive conduct occurring outside of the United States.3 The antitrust docket in the Northern District of California speaks to this point. From TFT-LCD panels to memory chips to optical disk drives to lithium-ion rechargeable batteries, the District has seen numerous consumer lawsuits for damages arising from alleged price-fixing of consumer-product components.4 Each of these cases has involved international cartels.

To recover damages against such cartels, however, aggrieved consumers who purchased products containing price-fixed components (i.e., finished products) generally must turn to state antitrust statutes because of the bar on indirect purchaser recovery under the Sherman Act.5 Many state antitrust regimes permit indirect purchasers to sue for damages resulting from anticompetitive conduct.6 And the fact that state antitrust laws provide relief where its federal counterpart does not is acceptable. As the U.S. Supreme Court recognized, the federal antitrust regime was intended "to supplement, not displace, state antitrust remedies."7

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