Commissioner Edith Ramirez became the new Chairwoman of the Federal Trade Commission on March 4. The White House announced the selection on February 28th.
Chairwoman Ramirez is an excellent choice for antitrust enforcement generally, but is truly an ideal Chair for the FTC as it prepares to face the next generation of anti-competitive practices stemming from patent misuse. She uniquely combines an IP litigation background with a commitment to aggressively enforce the spirit and the letter of the antitrust laws, and may prove a valuable friend in the movement for patent litigation reform.
Prior to joining the FTC, Chairwoman Ramirez was a partner with top intellectual property litigation fi [...]
In Consolidation in Health Care Markets: A Review of the Literature, authors David Balto and James Kovacs in a study funded by and submitted to the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation discuss the recent literature concerning consolidation across various health care markets.
The paper focuses on consolidation of hospital, provider, and health insurance markets with the goal of understanding the impact consolidation has on health care prices, quality of care, and overall costs. The paper seeks to provide an overview of the key research and present findings in different areas of healthcare to facilitate further investigation.
The authors find that while there is consolidation across many heal [...]
We all remember the movie “Reversal of Fortune” that retells the real life story of Claus von Bulow, accused of attempting to kill his super-wealthy wife. When the movie begins life looks extremely bleak for Claus – he has been convicted of murder, the factual evidence seems compelling and he seems like a wholly unsavory character. Yet Alan Dershowitz arrives on the scene, and although he believes Claus is guilty, he finds new legal avenues, undermines the key evidence, and reverses the conviction.
Google’s opponents probably feel like Claus with the news that the decision in the ongoing Federal Trade Commission antitrust investigation has been delayed. The FTC seemed poised to close [...]
The press has been reporting that the U.S. Federal Trade Commission has completed its in-depth 19-month investigation of Google and decided not to take action on the allegation that Google “intentionally manipulates search results to harm competitors.” For the last year and a half, Google’s corporate rivals have bellowed about the company’s supposed “abuses,” and lobbied the Commission to take the harshest possible action, at times even suggesting that the agency should become a day-to-day regulator of search and that Google should be constrained from adapting its product to meet consumer preferences. However, it seems that the Federal Trade Commission’s investigation has determined that Goo [...]
One of the critical obstacles to our innovation economy are patent trolls or Patent Assertion Entities (“PAE”) which acquire patents simply to bring patent litigation and effectively tax innovation. PAEs exploit numerous problems in our legal system including the expense and uncertainty of patent litigation, the excessive granting of patents in the high-tech space, the ambiguity of abstraction surrounding the claims of many high-tech patents, and the anticompetitive pricing power that comes from aggregating patents in an industry where market definition is especially difficult. PAEs are costing the economy over $29 billion annually and creating barriers to the innovation that is critical [...]
The press is reporting that FairSearch and the other Google opponents have trotted down Pennsylvania Avenue to the Department of Justice Antitrust Division asking them to take over the antitrust investigation of search now that the Federal Trade Commission is poised to close its investigation.
Although it’s Christmas time and we all like Christmas shopping, this is the wrong type of shopping: forum shopping. This last-ditch effort by Google’s competitors doesn’t make sense and is bad for innovation and consumers. Fortunately there is no way it will work.
In the United States we have the mixed blessing of having two antitrust agencies: the Federal Trade Commission and the Antitrust Division o [...]
Reports are circulating that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is having doubts about its antitrust case against Google. This is not surprising. There are many hazards of a case against Google, including the difficulty in identifying consumer harm, the logical paradox of “search neutrality,” and the inappropriateness of expanding “duty to deal” case law. And of course, even if the FTC can overcome these problems, the question of prospective regulation moving forward remains.
Over two years ago, I discussed the idea of a government imposed search regulator. The notion appeared so farfetched that some commentators insisted this idea is a straw man, a ploy to dismiss the arguments made by Goog [...]
Since the advent of antitrust enforcement in the United States through the Sherman Act in 1890, antitrust law and patent law have endured an uneasy relationship. Initial cases treated patents as superior to competition. Patentees once were “the owner of a monopoly recognized by the Constitution and by the statutes of Congress.” Gradually throughout the years our understanding of the intersection of intellectual property law and antitrust has evolved. We evolved to recognize that the scope of the patentee’s power is limited, and “as long as the inventors kept within their statutory exclusive rights” they could placate the Sherman Act. Regulatory agencies now recognize pate [...]
The press is on fire with dozens of stories that the FTC appears poised to sue Google for alleged anticompetitive conduct in search (and the possibility that any case may be settled). There certainly is no lack of well-paid advocates for aggrieved rivals ready to spin claims that Google is the next Microsoft and that FTC action is necessary to open the market to competition. But while these advocates are making a lot of noise, consumers are almost entirely silent. Indeed, unlike almost all of the recent antitrust wars such as the AT&T/T-Mobile and Ticketmaster/LiveNation mergers, or even the DOJ case against Microsoft, in which there was a groundswell of consumer opposition that spurred the [...]
One of the most complex and daunting challenges facing competition regulators is the evolving intersection of antitrust and intellectual property law. Given that both antitrust law and patent law seek to enhance consumer welfare and promote innovation, but do so through very different mechanisms, it is natural for regulators to struggle when harmonizing monopoly-granting patent law with competition-enforcing antitrust law.
Notwithstanding these hurdles, representatives from the Department of Justice Antitrust Division, the Federal Trade Commission, and the European Commission made it clear in a recent series of speeches that they intend to broaden their patent and competition focus to go bey [...]