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"We do not have two versions of antitrust law, one for international transactions and one for domestic: to the extent the law applies at all, it applies in a nondiscriminatory fashion."
In 1995, the Department of Justice indicted Nippon Paper Industries of Japan for conspiring with other Japanese firms to fix prices on thermal fax paper sold in the United States, in violation of section 1 of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act. In 1997, the First Circuit upheld the indictment, becoming the first court to extend the jurisdictional reach of the Sherman Act to a criminal conspiracy formed solely among foreign firms.
Yet the First Circuit decision and its subsequent implementation by the district court did not create a jurisdictional threshold that, once crossed, sets the typical antitrust prosecution in motion. To the contrary, Nippon Paper established a new element of the substantive offense - proof of "substantial effects" - that applies solely in international prosecutions. Not only does the new doctrine produce different substantive requirements for domestics and foreigners, it also undermines a half-century of case law holding that, once a particular restraint of trade is deemed illegal "per se" - as it was in this case - effects need not be proven to convict.
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