Accepting USCIB Amicus Position, Appeals Court Rejects FTC Approach to Antitrust Liability for Trademark Settlements

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has vacated the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) decision that 1-800 Contacts engaged in illegal agreements with rival online contact lens sellers on June 11, 2021.

In 2018, the Commission imposed antitrust liability against 1-800 Contacts years after it settled at least fourteen trademark infringing lawsuits against competing online retailers. The Commission alleged the settlements restricted trade by preventing all parties from bidding on each other’s trademarked search terms. USCIB filed an amicus brief in support of 1-800 Contacts during the appeal, arguing, among other things, that the Commission’s decision ignored the critical importance to business of intellectual property rights and that enforcing the FTC’s ruling would unfairly apply the lawful exercise of such rights to a higher pro-competition standard.

According to Bryan D. Gant of USCIB member firm White & Case, the Second Circuit’s opinion rejected both the idea that settling trademark disputes is “inherently suspect,” and that this standard could be applied to future cases. The court also overruled the Commission’s attempt to treat mere anecdotal price differences as direct evidence of anticompetitive conduct and directed that any “less restrictive alternatives” the Commission proposes be realistic. Bryant cautions, however, that in a footnote to the opinion, the Second Circuit leaves open the possibility that negative keyword advertising—paying to have a competitor’s name not appear in the search—might raise antitrust concerns, but the Court refused to consider it in this case as the issue was not squarely addressed by the FTC.

“USCIB is pleased that the Second Circuit decision largely accepted its amicus brief, rejecting the FTC’s approach to antitrust liability for trademark settlements, avoiding the potential negative impacts the decision would have had on businesses, consumers and competition,” asserted USCIB General Counsel Nancy Thevenin. The case is now remanded back to the Commission with instructions to dismiss.

USCIB is grateful to Eileen M. Cole, Bryan D. Gant and Seiji Niwa of member firm White & Case and USCIB Competition Committee leadership for their excellent work on the amicus brief.

The Second Circuit opinion is available here.

USCIB Announces the Appointment of Peter Sherwin as Chair of its Arbitration Committee

After five years of service, Grant Hanessian hands over the role and is appointed Chair of the group’s newly created Amicus Subcommittee

New York, N.Y., July 31, 2020 – The United States Council for International Business (USCIB), the U.S. affiliate of several global business organizations, including the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), announced today the appointment of Peter Sherwin as Chair of its Arbitration Committee. Sherwin, who is also head of the International Arbitration Group at Proskauer, has been a USCIB member since 2007 and will succeed Grant Hanessian, who served as chair since 2015.

“It has been an honor to have served as chair of USCIB’s Arbitration Committee,” said Hanessian. “I am incredibly proud of our accomplishments these last five years. We have become a true partner for the ICC in the U.S., and I am confident in the Committee’s future under Peter’s leadership as it continues to grow and expand our impact in the U.S. market.”

Sherwin is a partner in the Litigation Department at Proskauer and head of its International Arbitration Group. Sherwin was resident in the firm’s Paris office for several years, and, while his practice focuses on acting as counsel, he also regularly serves as an arbitrator.

“I am honored to have been appointed as the Chair of this dynamic group,” said Sherwin. “I look forward to leveraging our strategic network of companies and practitioners who are united in the desire to promote the use of arbitration and ADR in resolving international business disputes. I also look forward to working closely with Nancy Thevenin, USCIB’s general counsel, who assists in managing the group, Marek Krasula, the ICC director for Arbitration and ADR for North America, and our experienced and dedicated members.”

USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson added: “We are grateful to Grant for his dedication and leadership, which has improved the function of our Arbitration Committee. We are equally excited for what the future holds under Peter’s leadership. Peter brings a wealth of experience to our organization, which will be critical to our ability to scale and meet the growing demand of U.S. users for ICC’s dispute resolution services and products.”

About USCIB:
USCIB promotes open markets, competitiveness and innovation, sustainable development and corporate responsibility, supported by international engagement and regulatory coherence. Its members include U.S.-based global companies and professional services firms from every sector of our economy, with operations in every region of the world. As the U.S. affiliate of the International Chamber of Commerce, the International Organization of Employers and Business at OECD, USCIB provides business views to policy makers and regulatory authorities worldwide, and works to facilitate international trade and investment. More information is available at www.uscib.org.

ICC Launches Report on Climate Change Related Dispute Resolution

L-R: Edna Sussman, Matthew Draper, Kevin O’Gorman, Nancy Thevenin, and Hélène van Lith

The ICC Commission on Arbitration and ADR recently released a report on settling business disputes related to climate change with arbitration. The report, titled Resolving Climate Change Related Disputes Through Arbitration and ADR and initially launched in Paris earlier this month, was launched in New York at the offices of Norton Rose Fulbright US LLP on January 21. The New York launch was co-sponsored by USCIB and the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) International Court of Arbitration©.

The report defines climate change-related disputes and uses hypothetical case studies to demonstrate the potential circumstances in which such disputes may arise. Contracts identified as dealing with climate change include agreements for the creation of wind farms, solar power energy plants, smart cities or to decarbonize. 2019 is a pivotal year in the development of global climate policy with the UN seeking to raise ambition of commitments from states and other actors in line with the imperative to limit global warming to 1.5°C.

“This report provides sample language for ICC arbitration clauses, as well as terms of reference and guidance for case management,” said USCIB General Counsel Nancy Thevenin, who spoke on a panel titled Users’ Perspectives. “Because of the tools this report provides, climate change related disputes can be resolved more effectively. It is an invaluable product for the business community as industries take into account international agreements concerning the environment.”

Featured speakers also included, UN Assistant Secretary-General and Head of New York Office at UN Environment Satya S. Tripathi, ICC International Court of Arbitration President Alexis Mourre, Co-Chair of the Task Force on Arbitration of Climate Change Related Disputes Patrick Thieffry and other renowned members of the international Arbitration community.

USCIB Holds Annual Arbitration Luncheon

USCIB held its annual Arbitration Committee Luncheon in New York on January 22, bringing together local arbitration professionals for an update on new initiatives and goals for 2020, as well as a look back on 2019 accomplishments by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) International Court of Arbitration©.

Hosted by the Chair of the USA National Committee Grant Hanessian in the offices of Baker and Mckenzie LLP, the luncheon featured executive summaries from key members of the ICC International Court of Arbitration and the USCIB-ICC USA Committee, including President Alexis Mourre, Deputy Secretary General Ana Serra e Moura, Counsel for North American Cases Marek Krasula, Secretary of the ICC Commission on Arbitration and ADR Hélène van Lith, and General Counsel USCIB-ICC USA Nancy M. Thevenin.

According to Thevenin, Mourre emphasized on the positive perception of the ICC’s new policies by businesses, noting that ICC is perceived as an open, transparent and dynamic institution and as a well-known quality decision maker in part due to its serious scrutiny process. Serra presented the statistics showing that 2019 was the second-best year in newly-registered arbitration and discussed the ICC’s new tendency to act as amicus curiae in cases that impact international arbitration practice. Krasula provided insight into trends in U.S. cases during the past year and expected developments in the coming year. Van Lith presented the role of the ICC Commission on Arbitration and ADR, its previous task forces, and current task forces on addressing issues of corruption in international arbitration as well as on ADR and arbitration.

Thevenin also presented USCIB-ICC USA’s role and its recent strategies to impact the country and provide more transparency.

USCIB Sponsors Seminar on Mitigating Business Risk With Arbitration

USCIB/ICC USA sponsored a seminar in Albuquerque, New Mexico on June 14 on international arbitration and how that state’s businesses can use arbitration to mitigate the risks of doing business overseas. Some thirty New Mexico business executives, lawyers and law students attended the presentation, which was opened by Roberta Cooper Ramo, former president of both the American Bar Association and the American Law Institute.

Marek Krasula, counsel for the ICC International Court of Arbitration in New York and David Wilson, partner at Sherman & Howard in Denver, provided an overview of ICC arbitration and how to best draft contracts to provide for it. Matthew Draper, a partner at Draper & Draper in New York and Santa Fe, moderated a panel discussion addressing issues of particular relevance to local companies, such as using arbitration to protect IP rights, recovery of attorneys’ fees by prevailing parties, and keeping the costs of arbitration to a minimum.

“The ICC’s new Expedited Procedures, which apply when less than two million dollars is at stake, reduce significantly the time and cost of dispute resolution, and may be a good fit for New Mexico companies,” said Draper.

Vice Dean of the University of New Mexico School of Law Camille Carey noted in her closing remarks that she hoped the law school would expand opportunities for students to learn about international arbitration.

Annual Proskauer Lecture Analyzes Challenges of Arbitration Community

As in previous years, USCIB was honored to co-sponsor the 7th annual Proskauer Lecture on International Arbitration along with Proskauer, Columbia University School of Law’s Center for International Commercial and Investment Arbitration Law and the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) International Court of Arbitration. Taking place on May 14, the event opened with a welcome by Peter Sherwin from USCIB member law firm, Proskauer, and featured a lecture by widely respected commercial and investment arbitrator Mark Kantor.

The lecture focused on the topic Legitimacy Challenges to International Commercial Arbitration on the Horizon? Kantor reflected on the challenges that the arbitration community is currently facing, including bad press from cases that involve state or state-owned entities with large monetary awards, as well as the lack of diversity in the arbitration industry.

USCIB’s General Counsel, who leads USCIB’s work on Arbitration, Nancy Thevenin gave a closing statement, thanking the co-sponsors and attendees. “The Proskauer lecture series draws globally-renowned experts to educate the international arbitration community in New York, and beyond, on specific topics,” reported Thevenin following the successful event. “Through presentations like Mark’s, the lecture series has become a must-attend event.”

USCIB, or ICC USA, is the U.S. National Committee to the ICC and serves as a contact point in the U.S. for the ICC’s multi-faceted dispute resolution services.

USCIB Supports Singapore Convention on Mediation 

International businesses now have a powerful tool that will greatly facilitate international trade and commerce. The new Singapore Convention will make enforceable settlement agreements resulting from international mediation.

USCIB joined the US Chamber of Commerce, NFTC, and NAM to co-sign a letter of support for the U.S. signing and ratifying the Singapore Convention on Mediation. The letter was sent to U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo on November 1. The treaty negotiation was launched by the U.S. with the aim of developing a cost-effective international legal mechanism for resolving cross-border commercial disputes between private parties.

“By encouraging the use of mediation as a viable path to resolving commercial disputes, the Convention reduces cost and eliminates the need for duplicative litigation,” the letter stated.

The Convention also improves the enforcement process by obliging governments to recognize the legal status of any mediated settlement. As a result, the Singapore Convention helps mitigate risk when entering into a commercial relationship with businesses in foreign markets and raises the standards of fair trade globally.

USCIB Hosts Arbitration Luncheon on B2B Data Breaches Disputes

Program focused on the coming wave of data privacy and security disputes between businesses, the legal claims and defenses asserted in these cases and the key role of ADR in resolving these disputes.
Where there is a breach, companies need to examine who owned the data, who had custody of the data and the source of the breach.

 

USCIB’s Arbitration Committee hosted a luncheon with Squire Patton Boggs on October 3 focusing on arbitrating B2B data breach disputes. As data breaches are increasingly more common, business-to-business (“B2B”) disputes arising from security incidents between companies are also on the rise. The luncheon program focused on the coming wave of data privacy and security disputes between businesses, the legal claims and defenses asserted in these cases and the key role of ADR in resolving these disputes.

Divided into two panels, the first panel, which was moderated by USCIB General Counsel, Nancy M. Thevenin, focused on the business problem of data breach disputes. Speaker, Nancy Saltzman, former executive vice president, general counsel and company secretary of EXL Service, advised businesses to review their new and old contracts for data breach provisions and risk allocations. Where there is a breach, companies need to examine who owned the data, who had custody of the data and the source of the breach. Saltzman explained that a breach can occur internally within one’s own company via human or system error or externally via hacking.

Edward Chang of Cyber Risk Management at Travelers described how a breach may release a company’s sensitive information or personally identifiable information of its customers. Chang explained that in terms of insurance, this is a fast moving field with about 70 different issuers that provide coverage for B2B data breaches. He specified that there are four basic schemes for coverage: (a) incident response; (b) business interruption losses; (c) fraud and business email compromise; and (d) liability. Both speakers agreed that it is not uncommon for companies to quickly go through $10 million worth of coverage where a breach occurs.

The second panel, moderated by Frederic Fucci, an independent arbitrator with Fucci Law & ADR, PLL and chair of the Transactional Lawyers Subcommittee focused on how alternative dispute resolution (ADR), as opposed to litigation, was an effective means of resolving these disputes. Speaker Joseph V. DeMarco, founder and principal at DeVore & DeMarco LLP, emphasized that the confidentiality of mediation and arbitration was a key advantage. Speaker, Gary L. Benton, FCIArb, FCCA, an independent arbitrator with Gary Benton Arbitration and founder of the Silicon Valley Arbitration & Mediation Center, added that with ADR, the parties can select neutrals with the technical expertise to effectively resolve data breach disputes.

To conclude, the program emphasized the importance for businesses to focus on and negotiate the data breach provisions of any contract in which they are providing access to their data and to consider obtaining insurance to protect against data breaches. The program also emphasized using ADR to resolve these disputes. For example, using the standard ICC arbitration clause followed by provisions for the place of arbitration, applicable law, number of arbitrators with required expertise and language would be a sufficient starting place.

The New York Convention Turns 60

By Grant Hanessian

Hanessian is a partner at Baker McKenzie in New York and chair of USCIB’s Arbitration Committee. He is the U.S. member of the ICC Court of Arbitration and an adjunct professor of law at Fordham Law School. Contact him at grant.hanessian@bakermckenzie.com

Grant Hanessian

A few weeks ago, the 60th anniversary of the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards – the “New York Convention” – was celebrated at United Nations headquarters and the U.S. Courthouse in New York.

The tremendous success of the New York Convention, which provides for national court enforcement of foreign arbitration awards and agreements, is one of the principal reasons arbitration has become the preferred choice of parties around the world for resolving cross border commercial disputes. Virtually all the world’s major trading nations have ratified the convention.

Following a conference at the UN featuring representatives from the International Chamber of Commerce, UN Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL), International Bar Association, International Council for Commercial Arbitration, and U.S. Department of Commerce, a “birthday” celebration was held at the U.S. Courthouse on Pearl Street in Manhattan. ICC and UNCITRAL served as co-hosts of the event.

“The New York Convention is a tremendous example of how business and governments can work together to strengthen global governance, and its enduring relevance is a testament to ICC’s leadership in shaping the global environment for private dispute resolution over the past century,” ICC Secretary General John Denton observed at the reception. USCIB General Counsel Nancy Thevenin, who is immediate past chair of the New York State Bar Association International Section, helped organize the event and also made remarks.

ICC’s preeminence in international commercial arbitration is of course well known. The ICC International Court of Arbitration, created in 1923 to encourage settlement of disputes arising from international trade, has administered more than 23,000 disputes involving parties and arbitrators from 180 countries and independent territories.

It may be less well known that ICC initiated the process that led to creation of the New York Convention. At the UN conference, Anna Joubin-Bret, secretary of UNCITRAL, noted that ICC’s Commission on Arbitration and ADR prepared the first draft of the convention and submitted it to the UN in 1953. The UN Economic and Social Council then produced an amended draft that was discussed during a conference at UN Headquarters in May and June 1958, resulting in the UN’s adoption of the New York Convention on June 10, 1958.

Prior to adoption of the New York Convention, parties seeking to enforce foreign arbitral awards usually had to obtain two court decisions of exequatur, one from the country where the award was issued and another at the place of enforcement.  The convention eliminated the requirement of double exequatur, significantly restricted the grounds for national court refusal of recognition and enforcement and placed the burden of proving such grounds on the party opposing such recognition and enforcement.

Under the New York Convention, national courts considering applications for recognition and enforcement of foreign awards may not review the merits of the arbitral tribunal’s decision. National courts have generally construed the grounds for refusal of recognition and enforcement under the Convention narrowly, and they have exercised their discretion to refuse recognition and enforcement only in exceptional cases. Enforcement of arbitral awards by national courts is now considerably easier than enforcement of national court judgements in many countries, greatly facilitating resolution of international business disputes.

The New York Convention, and complementary UNCITRAL texts such as the UNCITRAL Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration in 1985, have led to an increasingly harmonized arbitration law. The UNCITRAL model law, which has now been adopted by 111 jurisdictions in 80 countries, essentially repeats the grounds of the New York Convention for enforcement and setting aside foreign awards.

At the UN event, Helene van Lith, the secretary of the ICC Commission on Arbitration and ADR, emphasized the role ICC continues to play in applying and interpreting the convention through Court of Arbitration scrutiny of awards and the publication of the forthcoming third revised edition of the ICC Guide to National Procedures for Recognition and Enforcement of Awards Under the New York Convention. The increasing availability of national court decisions interpreting the Convention and UNCITRAL model law, through such sources as the ICC Guide and the online Case Law on UNCITRAL Texts, has importantly contributed to a uniform and predictable application of arbitration law around the world.

In these times when multilateral trade arrangements are under stress, everyone interested in the continued growth of international business should applaud the extraordinary vitality of the New York Convention as it enters its seventh decade.

August 14, 2018

 

USCIB Joins ICC in Celebrating Anniversary of NY Convention

USCIB General Counsel Nancy Thevenin

New York’s international arbitration community recently celebrated the 60th anniversary of the New York Convention, which provides a universal basis for enforcement of arbitration agreements and awards is a source of particular pride to the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), which initiated the drafting process that led to the Convention’s adoption by the United Nations in 1958. 

USCIB General Counsel Nancy Thevenin, who is also the Immediate Past Chair of the New York State Bar Association International Section and George Bermann Professor at Columbia Law School, helped organize the reception and noted in her remarks, “There is an elegance to the fact that this sparely worded document has been one of the mightiest tools employed by the international business community to foster trade and investment worldwide.”

The Convention, and the many complementary UNCITRAL projects, demonstrate the abiding importance of state cooperation to promote efficient, effective and equitable resolution of commercial and investment disputes.

For more information on this event, please visit ICC’s website.