What do artificial teeth have to do with the Justice Department’s massive lawsuit against Apple? Well, this may be one of the reasons why the DOJ decided to file its lawsuit in the state of New Jersey – instead of, say, Virginia or Washington, DC, as it did for Google and Microsoft.

The DOJ previously brought — and won — a similar antitrust case against a false teeth company in the Third Circuit, which includes New Jersey.

In an interview with The edgeWilliam Kovacic, the former chairman of the Federal Trade Commission and professor at George Washington University Law School, explains that “the Third Circuit is a jurisdiction with some pretty good law for plaintiffs on monopolization issues.” He points to the DOJ’s 2004 antitrust case against Dentsply, a dental company that produces false teeth.

“It was a case – low-tech – involving dentures,” says Kovacic. “But they (the DOJ) won and with an opinion that paints a view of the law that will be good for them here.”

At the time, the DOJ accused Dentsply of maintaining a monopoly in artificial teeth. Dentsply made and sold artificial teeth to dealers, who then sold them to dental laboratories to make dentures. But, as detailed in the lawsuit, Dentsply has adopted a policy that prevents authorized dealers from “adding further cogs to their product offerings.” This prevented dealers from selling other brands of artificial teeth to laboratories, allowing Dentsply to “exclude competitors from the dealer network.”

While a district court initially ruled in Dentsply’s favor, the Third Circuit reversed this decision, ruling that the company’s “grip on its 23 authorized dealers effectively choked the artificial teeth market, leaving only a small piece for competitors.” ” Because the DOJ emerged victorious in this particular case, it may think it has an advantage over Apple here.

“The (Dentsply) case focuses heavily on the dominant company’s efforts to use exclusive trading arrangements to prevent rivals from getting the input they need to succeed,” Kovacic said. “It is a principle that the DC Circuit accepted and applied in the Microsoft monopolization case.” The DOJ also does not hide the fact that it has based much of its case on the antitrust lawsuit against Microsoft.

Teeth may not be the only reason why the DOJ chose a New Jersey district court as its venue. The edge also spoke with California Attorney General Rob Bonta, one of sixteen attorneys general involved in the DOJ lawsuit. While Bonta says he wasn’t closely involved in the choice of location, as the DOJ was largely responsible for that decision, he has some understanding of why the DOJ chose New Jersey — and it may be a little less exciting than fake teeth.

“I understand that Samsung is headquartered there (New Jersey), and they are affected by Apple’s anti-competitive and exclusionary behavior,” Bonta said. The lawsuit names both Samsung and Google as Apple’s two “meaningful competitors” in the premium smartphone market and specifically points out that Samsung’s U.S. headquarters are “located in this district.”

Additional reporting by Lauren Feiner.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *