Outdated Antitrust Judgments See Pruning Shears

WASHINGTON (CN) – The Department of Justice moved Monday to terminate 19 outdated antitrust judgments it said no longer protect competition.

The “legacy” judgments at issue, as they are known, were filed between 1926 and 1981. According to a memorandum filed this morning with a federal judge in Washington, the Department of Justice moved to close the judgments after soliciting and considering public comments, none of which objected to termination.

“Termination will permit the court to clear its docket, the department to clear its records, and businesses to clear their books, allowing each to utilize its own resources more effectively,” the memo says.

The move came as part of an initiative launched in April to review and identify outdated judgments, which Makan Delrahim, assistant attorney general for the antitrust division, celebrated in a statement.

“Today we have taken an important next step toward eliminating antitrust judgments that no longer protect competition,” Delrahim said. “Today’s filing is the first of many that we will make in courts around the country in our effort to terminate obsolete judgments.”

According to the memo, prior to 1979 when the government imposed 10-year limits on most antitrust judgments, the Justice Department sought judgments without expiration dates.

Aside from no longer bolstering competition, the Department of Justice said some of the judgments it wants to terminate have already been satisfied.

In other cases the defendants may no longer exist, the relevant patents have long since expired, or market conditions have evolved along with shifts in technology and competition.

One of the judgments identified was entered in 1949 against the Standard Register printing company. Founded in 1912 and rebranded as Taylor Communications in 2016, the July 9 filing notes that the judgment came down in the age of typewriters, long before personal computers and electronic printers forever altered the printing industry.

Another 1926 judgment against American Amusement Ticket Manufacturers Association happened during the era of paper tickets, decades prior to the electronic ticketing revolution.

“Market dynamics in these industries appear to have changed so substantially that the factual conditions that underlay the decisions to enter the judgments no longer exist,” the memo says.

Since April, the Justice Department says, it has solicited public comments on terminating outdated judgments in 19 other federal courts.

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