Antitrust and Unfair Competition Law

Competition: Spring 2014, Vol. 23, No. 1



Kenneth R. O’Rourke

O’Melveny & Myers LLP

Los Angeles, CA

California is an exciting place to practice competition law. The heart of the country’s high-tech (Silicon Valley), entertainment (Hollywood), wine (Napa/Sonoma), and agriculture (Central Valley) industries are located here. California is the country’s gateway to Asia and the Pacific Rim, has the country’s largest seaport complex (Long Beach/Los Angeles), and would be considered among the top ten largest economies in the world if California were counted as a country. California may be known as the state that pioneered freeways, but it’s the digital highway and the cross-roads of intellectual property and antitrust law that put California on the legal map today.

This is also home to the U.S. Department of Justice Antitrust Division Northern California field office (San Francisco), the country’s clear leader in investigating and prosecuting international price fixing cartels. These prosecutions in turn lead to an avalanche of complex civil litigation and private enforcement proceedings often filed in California courts. Indeed, our state attracts more antitrust class actions than any other state. We also have an active FTC regional office and most everyone would agree we have the number one state attorney general office for leading multi-state antitrust enforcement proceedings. Did I mention our terrific beaches, weather and national parks. . .

Seriously, we have it all. And at the very top of the professional chart is our strong and collegial Bar in which many of the nation’s leading antitrust enforcers, in-house counsel and private practitioners actively participate. This is the main reason I’m so excited to take the helm of the California State Bar Antitrust & Unfair Competition Law Section for 2013-14. It’s a great group, and we have exciting plans for the year as we carry out our Section’s mission, to promote and teach antitrust and unfair competition laws while enhancing professionalism.

How does the Section do this? In several ways:

Journal of Competition. You have in your hand—or at your fingertips if you are reading this column on line—our latest edition. Competition is published twice a year with informative articles on antitrust and unfair competition law developments, policy points of view, and useful information such as antitrust trial tips and practice pointers. The current edition is outstanding. More about this edition in a moment.
Webinars. Every month or two our Section offers an MCLE program. Topics vary. A Webinar might consist of litigators discussing their recent trial experiences or certifying class actions; or practitioners discussing new developments in merger review proceedings; or perhaps government officials addressing enforcement developments. Typically our Webinars are scheduled so participants may listen by phone or log on to a website for a 60- or 90-minute presentation during lunchtime. What a great way to keep up to speed and earn MCLE credits, while being enlightened if not entertained.
eBriefs. Several times a year we email summaries and short discussions of leading new cases that impact our practices. The focus is on California cases, but federal cases are also addressed. The aim is to be helpful and brief, and to inform Section members and other readers of key arguments and holdings in late-breaking decisions.
Treatise. We publish the country’s single most authoritative and comprehensive treatise on the important California Cartwright Act and the seemingly ubiquitous California Unfair Competition Laws. The treatise, titled California State Antitrust and Unfair Competition Law, consists of over 1,000 pages in loose-leaf format. It is prepared or updated annually under the auspices of Editor-in-Chief Cheryl L. Johnson, the immediate past chair of our Section’s Executive Committee. The treatise discusses statutes, decisions, policies, concerns and history unique to our state and the shaping of our antitrust and unfair competition laws. This is a "must have" as both a quick reference guide and for a substantive understanding of California’s competition law. Information on purchasing the Treatise is available on the Section’s website:
Presentations. At the State Bar’s Annual Meeting and at other times during the year, we present panel discussions of interest to antitrust, unfair competition law and business litigators and trial lawyers, merger and regulatory advisors, transactional counselors, white collar and civil litigation lawyers, and other private practitioners, in-house counsel, and government enforcers, whether experienced in antitrust and unfair competition laws or new to the field. The subject matter varies. Look for our panels at the State Bar Annual Meeting in San Diego in September.
Golden State Institute. Our flagship educational and networking event is the annual Golden State Institute, known affectionately as GSI. GSI consists of a full day of programs, presentations and panels on a variety of antitrust and unfair competition law topics. This year, as in recent years, the nation’s top trial lawyers will talk about their recent competition cases and trial outcomes. They will give us their insights, in a format of interest to litigators and non-litigators alike. These trial tales will entertain everyone. And this is just the morning session.
We will also hear from the judiciary—including an Associate Justice of the California Supreme Court and federal court judges—as well as leading government enforcers and regulators. The day will be capped off with a reception and awards dinner at which our Section will present its Antitrust Lawyer of the Year award to Phillip H. Warren, the long-time chief of the U.S. Department of Justice Antitrust Division’s Northern California field office. Phil retired this year after a stellar career leading many of the country’s largest and most important criminal antitrust prosecutions over the past decade.
Interspersed throughout the day and evening will be the chance to enjoy the company and collegiality of our Section members, the conference presenters and panelists, and many special guests. GSI will be a truly special event.
So save the date: Thursday, October 16, 2014, and look for registration information on our Section website and in mailings during the coming months. GSI will be held in San Francisco again this year.

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