Antitrust and Competition Law
The lawyers at Ellis & Winters have extensive experience in helping our clients win antitrust lawsuits and avoid civil litigation and criminal prosecution. We have handled civil cases involving alleged price-fixing, customer allocations, monopolization, resale-price maintenance, and other competition-related claims. We have defended complex matters, including class actions, with stakes in the hundreds of millions of dollars. We have also helped our corporate clients recover millions of dollars in damages that they have suffered because of other companies' antitrust violations.
Ellis & Winters lawyers have handled sensitive matters in which federal or state antitrust enforcers have alleged criminal conspiracies to fix prices or allocate customers. In these matters, we have helped our clients interact effectively with the government lawyers. We have also helped our clients protect their rights during grand jury investigations.
We regularly help clients solve antitrust problems that never come to litigation. These issues usually concern our clients' own business plans, but sometimes they involve the actions of our clients' suppliers and competitors. We also offer companies more general advice on how to avoid problems under the antitrust laws. We do so both in informal settings and in seminars that we offer to executives and sales organizations. Our advice covers pricing issues, joint ventures and other alliances, intellectual property licensing, distribution, franchising, and dealer terminations.
Our experience in antitrust matters includes:
- We represented a major financial services company in a putative class action filed by indirect purchasers of credit card services. In a major decision that put limits on indirect-purchaser standing under state law, North Carolina’s Business Court dismissed this case on the pleadings.
- We defended a major airline in a Sherman Act class action brought by travel agents. The travel agents alleged that airlines conspired to reduce the commissions they paid travel agents. A federal district court granted summary judgment against these claims.
- We defended an Asian pharmaceutical company in a putative class action that raised unusual claims under North Carolina’s antitrust statutes. The North Carolina Court of Appeals ordered the dismissal of the claims against our client.
- We helped two major textile companies in North Carolina pursue price-fixing and customer allocation claims against suppliers of raw materials. With our help, the companies recovered millions of dollars from the suppliers.
- We recently represented an individual accused of making agreements with competitors regarding the prices his company paid for a major input (alleged “buy-side” price-fixing). After a grand jury investigation, the government brought no charges against our client.
Our expertise in trade regulation extends beyond the usual claims under federal antitrust law. In this era of forum shopping, it is increasingly common for plaintiffs to sue in state court, under state law alone. North Carolina has a wide-open “unfair trade practices” statute that is a critical factor in antitrust cases, as well as most other business litigation, here. Our experience with these issues under North Carolina law is second to none.