US: Washington’s top lawyer oddly questioned in high-stakes antitrust case

In what reports are calling a peculiar twist in a high-profile antitrust case, Solicitor General Donald Verrilli was reportedly questioned by the Seventh US Circuit Court of Appeals and asked to identify by name the government officials with whom he consulted regarding his brief filed with the court in an appeal filed by Motorola regarding the tech firm’s lawsuit against LCD manufacturers.

The case is a high profile suit that tests the reach of US antitrust law, experts say. Motorola filed lawsuits against various LCD screen makers alleged to have fixed product prices. Motorola says those companies harmed Motorola units abroad.

But US Judge Richard Posner ruled against Motorola, finding that the company’s suit was out of the jurisdiction of US antitrust regulation.

Following Judge Posner’s March ruling, the US Department of Justice filed a brief in April expressing concern that the decision could undermine the nation’s anti-cartel efforts. The government now wants the Seventh Circuit to rehear the suit.

Following the DOJ’s brief, reports say the State and Commerce Departments were asked by the court to offer their opinion on the case. That brief, filed by Verrilli, was reportedly questioned by the court. Lawyers in the case told reporters they had never seen a request like the one made by the appellate court in asking for the names of the State and Commerce Department officials who met with Verrilli when preparing the brief on their behalf.

The court reportedly withdrew that request last Friday, further complicating the matter.

Verrilli’s brief reportedly told the court that the government was not aware of any complaints by other nations regarding the US’s price-fixing prosecutions on foreign firms that were later sued by Motorola.

But the court asked Verrilli to provide more information to ensure that Verrilli’s brief “’reflects the views of the United States.’” That request was retracted Friday.

Full content: Wall Street Journal

Want more news? Subscribe to CPI’s free daily newsletter for more headlines and updates on antitrust developments around the world.