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Antitrust, Competition, and Trade Regulation

The firm’s antitrust, competition, and trade law practice group is composed of nearly 80 lawyers throughout the United States, Europe, Australia, and Asia. The group is positioned in strategic markets around the globe to help clients minimize antitrust risks and ensure compliance, defend or pursue litigation, get deals through regulatory authorities, provide guidance in pricing, distribution, and brand protection challenges, and leverage antitrust and competition laws. 

The group’s long-standing international trade enforcement and compliance and policy experience, coupled with the firm’s global reach, enables us to assist clients with nearly any type of international trade matter, and in any location, particularly those involving export controls, economic sanctions, customs, trade remedies and unfair trade practices, trade agreements, and foreign investment controls including procedures of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States.

We represent clients before competition authorities such as the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the European Commission (EC), the Chinese State Administration for Market Regulation, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), state Attorneys General, and EU member state competition authorities. Our clients include corporations, trade associations, and individuals across key industries, including heavy manufacturing, telecom, media, and technology, health care and pharmaceuticals, energy, transportation, and auto parts.

We blend our regulatory knowledge with our understanding of industry trends to provide guidance in a number of areas, including:

  • Civil and administrative litigation and class actions
  • Cartels including criminal litigation
  • Abuse of dominance and monopolization
  • Mergers, acquisitions, and joint ventures
  • Resale price maintenance, global distribution, and brand equity
  • Compliance and counseling
  • Competition advocacy
  • Consumer protection and false advertising
  • International trade
  • Trade associations 
  • Acquisition of asset being divested pursuant to FTC and DOJ consent orders

Our lawyers have handled complex antitrust and competition law matters on every continent except Antarctica. Our global reach is especially valuable to clients given the increasing cooperation between antitrust authorities throughout the world. Our antitrust and competition practitioners, supported by a global firm of nearly 2,000 lawyers, provide coverage everywhere our clients face competition issues.

Capabilities

Civil and Administrative Litigation and Class Actions

Civil antitrust litigation can take years to resolve, distract business operations, and cost millions of dollars. With lawyers throughout the United States, Europe, and Australia, we help clients navigate antitrust litigation to seek the earliest and most advantageous exit. Our experience includes class actions and competitor actions related to allegations of price fixing, bid-rigging, breach of competition rules involving intellectual property, and boycotting, as well as litigation related to distribution, false advertising and promotion, unfair competition, and deceptive trade practices.

In the United States, our lawyers have the requisite experience to litigate multidistrict class actions. They understand when to take a leading role in the defense or to minimize cost by taking a supporting role, whether to aggressively pursue an exit strategy, such as an early motion to dismiss, or to wait and conserve credibility, and how best to distinguish a client from other defendants to minimize exposure.

Cartels Including Criminal Litigation

Our experienced antitrust and white-collar criminal defense team, composed of lawyers who previously held significant government positions, is well-positioned to defend clients’ interests in criminal antitrust and cartel matters.

We have achieved significant success in numerous jurisdictions around the world, and are recognized by U.S. and international accrediting groups for our strong record in representing companies and executives in investigations and enforcement actions. Matters have included proceedings involving the DOJ, the Canadian Competition Bureau, the EC, the German Federal Cartel office, the UK Competition and Markets Authority, the competition authorities of several EU member states, the Japanese Fair Trade Commission, the ACCC, and other governmental authorities. The strength of our international presence allows us to coordinate responses to the onerous and often conflicting commands of simultaneous investigations in multiple jurisdictions. Our global reach mitigates problems frequently encountered when the work of several law firms must be coordinated.

We have provided effective representation in virtually every type of cartel proceeding and have obtained amnesty under national leniency programs when appropriate. We have confronted grand jury investigations, dawn raids, and search warrants, sought grants of immunity and leniency, responded to statements of objections, and negotiated plea agreements and resolutions. In many investigations, we have persuaded the government not to pursue criminal enforcement proceedings or civil or administrative monetary penalties. When necessary, we have aggressively and successfully defended our clients at trial. Our experience helps us to anticipate and limit follow-on civil damage and securities law litigation. Additionally, the depth and breadth of our team allows us to organize quickly, conduct internal client investigations to determine the facts, and assess potential exposure and minimize risk. We strive to reduce the effect of the resolution and its effect on future business conduct.

Pricing, Distribution, and Brand Protection

Our global brand equity and strategic distribution team is a market leader in the development of optimized, global, go-to-market designs which encompass the realities of cross-border trade, ensure compliance with local regulatory and competition law regimes, and account for the bespoke goals and challenges of each brand and its products in several distinctive ways:

  • We are strategic advisors focused on delivering actual business gains and results for our clients in terms of marketplace control and brand value, as opposed to simply legal compliance and non-impactful takedown numbers. 
  • We work closely with product manufacturers, licensors and licensees in all aspects of a brand and price strategy—from deep-dive diagnosis, though optimized strategy design, market and partner communication strategy, execution and implementation mechanics, and compliance training, to market monitoring and enforcement (with targets and tracking) for long-term value and accountability. 
  • We comprise a fully integrated team of dynamic, creative distribution architects across five continents with proven experience in designing multi-region distribution strategies, with a focus on addressing e-commerce and online marketplace disruption. 
  • We are recognized as innovative thought leaders who are not afraid to make difficult judgment calls in regions where the laws remain unclear or involve greater potential risk. We are constantly evolving our cutting-edge proprietary know-how and ideas, which have proven highly effective in achieving our client’s objectives. We are also at the forefront of the developing laws in this space, advocating our clients’ interests before legislators and courts.
  • We are pragmatic and flexible, designing structures and mechanisms reflective of each client’s business realities and priorities, including business plans, available resources, partner sophistication, retail network size, existing relationships and sensitivities, and risk profiles. Our approach in each case is designed to facilitate project buy-in, implementation, and management, with a view to delivering significant and measurable returns on investment for our clients.

For these reasons, we are trusted by some of the world’s most successful brands to advise on highly complex distribution and pricing questions and network design. These range from high-tech and high-fashion brands where authorized reseller and pricing strategies have been commonplace for some time, to “branded commodity” manufacturers requiring innovative solutions to tackling brand and price erosion.

International Trade

Our international trade team is experienced in every area of international trade law and regulation, including export controls and sanctions, customs, trade remedies and unfair trade practices proceedings, trade agreements, foreign direct investment in the United States, and unlawful payments.

Our long-standing international trade regulation and trade policy experience, coupled with our global reach, enables us to assist clients with nearly any type of international trade matter. Clients range from manufacturers, exporters, importers, and governments, to individuals, associations, and other organizations from virtually every geographic region.

We provide advice on business planning and transactions, regulatory proceedings, national and multinational trade proceedings and disputes, and government investigations and enforcement proceedings. When it comes to matters before the World Trade Organization (WTO), we have lawyers with prior government experience, including a partner who served as lead counsel for the United States in the first WTO ruling to interpret the GATS Annex on Financial Services, and in the longest appellate proceeding in the history, upholding a US$18 billion panel finding in illegal European subsidies to Airbus. 

Abuse of Dominance and Monopolization

As companies grow and become more successful, so does the antitrust risk associated with their conduct. We defend clients in all manner of investigations and lawsuits alleging the misuse of market power. We confront litigation on a range of business practices, including strategic alliances, distribution practices, product innovation, and changes in existing distribution or pricing strategies. We also help clients leverage antitrust laws to gain access to new markets and address problems resulting from competitor actions. Our satisfied clients span a broad range of industries, including automotive and trucking, banking and financial services, branded consumer products including electronics, computer software and hardware, health care and pharmaceuticals, ocean shipping and transportation, oil and gas, telecommunications and media, sporting goods, and waste services.

In Europe, our sports sector team is experienced in sports law and policy. We represent teams, leagues, and players in addressing unlawful abuse of dominance by sports governing bodies. 

Mergers, Acquisitions, and Joint Ventures

We help clients structure transactions by isolating or minimizing competition concerns. This involves analyzing substantive competition issues, advising on merger integration and planning, preparing merger control notification, representing merging parties before competition authorities, and advising on competition issues relevant to purchase, sale, and joint venture agreements. 

For multijurisdictional mergers, we evaluate notification and approval obligations and manage the process across multiple jurisdictions. We also frequently represent our clients as third-party commenters or challengers to proposed transactions between competitors. Our lawyers have represented clients in a number of high-profile and precedent-setting transactions.

We provide many of these same services to clients who are opposed to, or concerned about, mergers by competitors or suppliers. We assist clients in presenting their concerns to relevant enforcement agencies, proposing appropriate divestitures or other relief, and acquiring assets to be divested. 

Counseling and Compliance

We help clients minimize or avoid antitrust risk both in the planning of cooperation and in its execution. Our experience includes antitrust audits, compliance programs, and internal investigations. We counsel clients on agreements regarding distribution, agency, purchase and supply, licensing and technology transfer and joint venture, specialization, and research and development. We also advise on pricing and price discrimination issues and obtaining market access—which we do on behalf of some of the largest companies in the world.

Competition Advocacy

Our lawyers have extensive experience representing clients before legislative bodies and regulatory authorities that are considering legislation or regulations that regulate or affect competition. We have helped shape competition regulations promulgated by U.S. agencies such as the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Federal Communications Commission, Department of Transportation, Federal Maritime Commission, Postal Regulatory Commission, as well as the UK Environment Agency. We have participated in drafting state legislation and regulations that affect competition in our clients’ industries. We have also advised and represented clients in judicial and appellate proceedings in which challenges to federal and state regulatory actions affecting competition are considered.

Consumer Protection and False Advertising

The consumer protection missions of the FTC, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), ACCC, and state regulatory authorities increasingly affect our clients’ business operations. Private litigation under the U.S. Lanham Act and Australian Consumer Law can expose businesses to millions in damages for false advertising or unfair trade practices.

We provide counseling and represent clients in consumer protection matters ranging from “Made in USA” and comparative-advertising claims to mortgage-servicing investigations brought by the FTC, CFPB, and other agencies. We also defend clients against deceptive practices and unfair competition claims brought by state authorities under U.S. laws, or by private entities under the Lanham Act, international trade regulation, or Australian Consumer Law. Similarly, for clients conducting business in the EU, we regularly advise on the complex and sometimes onerous consumer-focused provisions of EU law relating to advertising, consumer contracts, pricing, e-commerce, and data protection privacy issues.

Trade Associations

We represent trade associations across diverse sectors including air cargo transport, tourism, metals and mining, ocean and shipping, paper, and commercial real estate. We guide these clients on structure and formation, trade association rules, meeting monitoring, and antitrust exposure resulting from initiatives such as standard-setting, benchmarking, statistical collection and dissemination, and joint litigation. Additionally, we advise on operations, membership criteria, competition law compliance programs, and government advocacy. We also represent trade associations in government investigations.

Additional Thought Leadership Pages
23 January 2020
Legal 500 Recognizes K&L Gates in 2020 Asia Pacific Guide
Rankings & Recognitions
04 April 2016
K&L Gates Welcomes Sydney Competition Partner
Press Release
17 February 2016
K&L Gates Names 50 New Partners
Press Release

National Tier 1 Ranking in Antitrust Law

U.S. News – Best Lawyers® "Best Law Firms" 2016 - 2020

Consistently ranked National Tier 1 in Native American Law by U.S.News - Best Lawyers® "Best Law Firms"

Recognized by The Legal 500 as a top antitrust firm for mergers, acquisitions, and buyouts.

Recommended for European Union competition law services by The Legal 500 in the United Kingdom.

Our work in complex matters has been recognized in Chambers UK, Global Competition Review, and International Who's Who of Business Lawyers.

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