CBA Antitrust & Trade Regulation and Consumer Law Section

November 12, 2001
Quinnipiack Club, New Haven, CT
"You Be The Judge. Should The Illinois Brick Doctrine Apply to CUTPA Claims?" Mock Argument in Vacco v. Microsoft Corp., featuring:
  • Ben Solnit, Tyler, Cooper & Alcorn
  • Roger Reynolds, Antitrust Department, Office of the Attorney General
  • James Sicilian, Day, Berry & Howard
  • Robert Langer, Wiggin & Dana

On November 1, the Connecticut Supreme Court will hear the appeal in Vacco v. Microsoft Corp., a case in which the Court will decide whether Connecticut consumers can bring class-action antitrust claims against manufacturers under the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act. In so doing, it is expected that the Court will determine the applicability of the Illinois Brick doctrine to the Connecticut Antitrust Act and CUTPA. On November 12, it will be your turn to find about this matter and question the lawyers who argued before and briefed the Court.

The brief filed with the Court will be available at the meeting. What follows is an overview of the matter.

Since the United States Supreme Court's decision in Illinois Brick v. Illinois,431 U.S. 720 (1977), it has been a fundamental principle of antitrust law that indirect purchasers--those who do not purchase directly from an alleged antitrust violater--do not have standing to sue under the antitrust laws. In this case, the plaintiff, represented by Ben Solnit, filed a class action complaint on behalf of himself and other users of Microsoft's Windows operating systems, alleging that he was overcharged for the copy of the software that was pre-installed on the computer he purchased from a Staples store as a result of Microsoft's alleged monopoly pricing. Among other things, he argues that his claims are CUTPA claims that should be allowed to go forward notwithstanding the Illinois Brick rule. He argues that the Illinois Brick rule does not apply to CUTPA claims, even though the claims are based on antitrust principles. Microsoft, represented by Jim Sicilian, successfully moved to dismiss the plaintiff's claims in the Superior Court; the plaintiff appealed to the Connecticut Appellate Court; and the Connecticut Supreme Court took the appeal directly. Two amicus briefs have been filed, one prepared by Roger Reynolds on behalf of the Attorney General's Office in support of the plaintiff, and one by Bob Langer on behalf of the CBIA arguing that Illinois Brick bars indirect purchasers from bringing antitrust claims regardless of whether the claims are labeled CUTPA claims.