On November 12, 2013, the European Commission published a summary of its December 20, 2012 decision (the “Decision”) accepting commitments offered by members of the Thomson Reuters group (“Thomson Reuters”). The Decision ended a three-year-long investigation that began in October 2009 into Thomson Reuters’ alleged abuse of a dominant position in a market defined as consolidated real-time data feeds (“CRTDF”).
Although Thomson Reuters did not agree with the Commission’s analysis, it offered commitments to address the Commission’s concerns, and the Decision made these commitments binding without formally finding an infringement or imposing fines. Ending an investigation t [...]
Say you built a better mousetrap, the world beat a path to your door and now you have a high share of the mousetrap market. Let’s further assume that your customers find “the cost of switching [to another mousetrap] prohibitive” through no actions of yours. What else must you do to be accused of entering into a de facto exclusive dealing arrangement that might be anti-competitive? According to an opinion last month in Pro Search Plus v. VFM Leonardo (2013-2 Trade Cases ¶78,599; 2013 WL 6229141 (C.D. Cal.)), the answer is “nothing.” While it is just a denial of a motion to dismiss by one district court, the opinion and its reliance on the heavily-criticized ZF Meritor v. Eato [...]
Effective December 16, 2013, Hart-Scott-Rodino (HSR) coverage of exclusive licenses of patents will change. As HSR practitioners know well, the Federal Trade Commission’s Premerger Notification Office (PNO) has long-interpreted HSR to cover exclusive licenses as a reportable acquisition (assuming all other requirements are met) if the licensor did not retain any rights to “make, use or sell” under the patent. Now, the PNO’s formal rules will consider a patent license a reportable acquisition even if the licensor retains the right to manufacture—but solely for the licensee—or if the licensor retains the right to co-market, but, again, solely with the licensee. The PNO’s thinking [...]
On 5 December, the European Commission published a package of measures to reduce the administrative burden of EU merger control, which will apply as of 1 January 2014.
The package extends the scope of the simplified procedure for non-problematic cases. This means that more transactions may be notified using the Short Form CO, which will reduce the burden notwithstanding the fact the “Short” Form CO is still a fairly lengthy document. The European Commission considers that its proposed changes could allow up to 60-70% of all notified mergers to qualify for review under the simplified procedure, which is about 10% more than today.
The European Commission has also introduced various amendm [...]
In anticipation of a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing next week, entitled “The FTC at 100: Where Do We Go from Here,” David Balto offers this post, discussing the important role Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act can play in the battle with patent trolls.
One hundred years ago Congress created the Federal Trade Commission to serve as this nation’s consumer protection cop. Recognizing the limits of the antitrust laws and the lack of consumer protection law Congress gave it broad powers under Section 5 of the FTC Act to attack “unfair trade practices” and “unfair methods of competition.” On December 3, the House Energy and Commerce Committee will hold an FTC oversight h [...]
Protecting data security is the most important consumer protection issue for the economy. Each year the Federal Trade Commission receives a flood of identity fraud complaints. Efforts to diminish the problem by noting the limits on consumer liability are just plain wrong. There are liability protections but the external costs can be overwhelming. Consumers must pay for credit repair services or insurance against credit fraud which cost over $7.5 billion annually. Consumers also have to spend a substantial amount of time resolving identity theft (estimated at 21 hours in a 2009 study). The harm does not end there. Identity theft can lead to debt collection harassment, lost employment opportun [...]
Charles Dickens’ famous novel A Tale of Two Cities begins with “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” Dickens’ brilliant prose could have been describing our twin antitrust enforcement agencies.
This Friday the House Judiciary Committee held a hearing to evaluate antitrust enforcement. After a period of inactivity, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has found its footing successfully litigating in court and providing real consumer benefits that affect Americans’ pocket books. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), on the other hand, has failed to show the same progress and is falling behind in its mission.
Our story begins under the previous administration where there was [...]
Wow, what a success! The Antitrust Division recently announced that its investigations in the auto parts market uncovered “separate conspiracies to fix the prices of more than 30 different products sold to US car manufacturers ….”  This adds to the results thus far in the investigation, with guilty pleas from 20 companies and fines of over $1.6 billion. Seventeen executives are either in or headed to prison. And ongoing investigations mean more are in the works. In the words of the head of criminal enforcement in the Division, “The deterrent impact of their sentences should resonate in boardrooms around the world.”
But wait, should this make us feel comfortable about antitrust enforceme [...]
Recently, there have been two striking cases of organisations behaving badly in a way that the outside world would think was well out of order.
In the first example – the Roma Medical Aids case – it isn’t just about somebody breaking the rules. It’s about a company acting in a way that a half-decent person wouldn’t dream of doing so.
Roma Medical Aids is a company based in Bridgend in Wales that makes mobility scooters. Two years ago, it got together with seven UK online retailers and agreed a ban on their selling Roma-branded mobility scooters online and advertising their prices on the internet. Not surprisingly, this cosy little arrangement meant that vulnerable consumers – who [...]
Two of the most significant conferences on the antitrust calendar were held last week. Georgetown Law Center featured its Seventh Annual Global Antitrust Enforcement Symposium on September 25, and Fordham Law School’s 40th annual international antitrust law and policy conference took place on September 26 and 27.
FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez and William Baer, Assistant Attorney General at the Department of Justice Antitrust Division, delivered remarks on their latest enforcement priorities at both programs.
In case you missed these great programs, here are some brief summaries of the enforcers’ presentations.
Global Antitrust Enforcement
Chairwoman Ramirez kicked off the Georgetown prog [...]