Competition Matters

Who decides how consumers should shop?

Consumers once shopped predominantly at their local stores; but first mail order catalogs and today the Internet have created new ways to shop for and purchase a wide range of goods and services. Similarly, consumers once arranged for taxis by hailing one from a street corner or by calling a dispatcher; yet today, smartphones and new software applications are shaking up the transportation industry, creating new business opportunities and new services for consumers.

New security procedures for HSR filers

Updated as of May 1. Here is a printable version of the instructions for delivering HSR filings.

Do bike messengers read blogs about Hart-Scott-Rodino? Maybe not. But anyone who needs to file a HSR premerger notification form after April 25 should read on for information about how to deliver filings at the PNO’s new home on the fifth floor of the Constitution Center.

Getting around town in the share economy

One of the most vibrant areas of recent economic development has been the “share economy.” Facilitated by popular smartphones and animated not only by economics, but also by many people’s interest in expanding social networks, peer-to-peer (P2P) software applications now facilitate services from shopping to local accommodations.

Promoting procedural fairness through the ICN

Engagement in multilateral dialogue and consensus building is a cornerstone of the FTC’s international antitrust program, and our active involvement in the International Competition Network (ICN), a collaborative network of antitrust agencies from 111 jurisdictions around the world, is at the heart of this work. The FTC is a founding member of the ICN and serves on the ICN’s Steering Group.

The fix is (not) in: lessons from the Ardagh case

The FTC recently accepted a proposed settlement that would end its litigation to prevent Ardagh Group SA’s proposed acquisition of Saint-Gobain Containers, Inc. from reducing competition in the glass container industry. The proposed consent agreement requires Ardagh to divest six of its nine U.S.

Traditions and change

Spring is a special time in Washington. Since the first trees were planted around the Tidal Basin in 1912, viewing the cherry blossoms has become a Washington tradition.

Another spring tradition: the Bureau Director’s annual report to the gathering of antitrust lawyers and economists in town for the ABA’s Antitrust Law Spring Meeting. This year, it is my privilege to report on the activities and accomplishments of the Bureau’s 300 lawyers and support staff. 

A good deal

On any given Sunday in Illinois, consumers can do their weekly shopping at various “brick and mortar” stores or turn to online vendors virtually 24-7. They can even purchase alcohol on Sunday after 11:00 a.m. But for decades they have been barred by law from purchasing a new or used automobile from a licensed car dealer.

A license that is more than a license

Today, the Commission accepted for public comment a proposed order designed to preserve competition after the merger of CoreLogic and DataQuick, two of only three firms that license national assessor and recorder bulk data. The proposed order does this by facilitating the entry of RealtyTrac to replace the loss of DataQuick as an independent competitor.

The PNO is moving!

On April 28, the PNO will move to its new offices on the fifth floor of Constitution Center, located at the corner of 7th and D Streets SW above the L’Enfant Plaza Metro Station. We hope to make this a seamless transition with no interruption in our ability to receive filings. We will continue to accept filings at the current location in the FTC HQ office on the third floor up until 5 p.m. on Friday, April 25, and reopen on the fifth floor of the Constitution Center at 8:30 a.m. on Monday, April 28.

Preserving competition among hometown hospitals

In cities and towns throughout the U.S., hospitals are a key part of the health care delivery system. Every day, Americans seek care from their local hospital at significant and vulnerable times, from the birth of a baby to treatment for a serious illness. The FTC works to promote competition in health care markets, including hospital services, because vigorous competition promotes the delivery of high-quality, cost-effective health care.

The doctor (or nurse practitioner) will see you now: Competition and the regulation of advanced practice nurses

The FTC employs many experts in competition, consumer protection, and economics. We embrace our special role in helping other policymakers understand how the competitive process benefits consumers, and encouraging them to adopt rules that promote competition.

Arbitration in the Google/MMI order

Last year the FTC negotiated a consent order with Google Inc. and its subsidiary Motorola Mobility (MMI) resolving charges that the companies engaged in unfair competition by violating the FRAND commitments for some of MMI’s standard-essential patents (SEPs). A key feature in the Commission’s Order is a requirement that Google offer potential licensees binding arbitration when negotiations over licensing SEPs break down.

Examining health care competition: Time for another check-up

When was your last health exam? Just as we (are supposed to) get regular check-ups from our health care providers, the FTC thinks it is smart to do a periodic check-up on the health care industry itself. Health care is a critical sector of the U.S. economy, affecting the lives of all American consumers.

Inside the antitrust mailbox

Every year, we receive thousands of emails, letters, and phone calls from businesses and consumers relating facts they believe present an antitrust concern. The Bureau welcomes inquiries from the public because a call or email can be the source of information that leads to an antitrust enforcement action to stop or prevent anticompetitive conduct. More generally, an important part of the FTC’s mission is to promote public understanding of the competitive process. So, in addition to our law enforcement duties, it’s our job to listen and to educate.

100 years of looking to the future

As Yogi Berra reputedly said, “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.” But that is precisely the job Congress gave to antitrust enforcers nearly 100 years ago when it passed the Clayton Act and established the Federal Trade Commission, in part, to enforce it. By its terms, the Clayton Act was designed to deal with antitrust violations before they occur, to address them in their incipiency. 

HSR threshold adjustments and reportability

When Congress passed the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976, it created minimum dollar thresholds to limit the burden of premerger reporting. In 2000, it amended the HSR statute to require the annual adjustment of these thresholds based on the change in gross national product. As a result, reportability under the Act changes from year to year as the statutory thresholds adjust. The PNO fields many questions about the upcoming adjustments to the HSR thresholds from parties whose transactions may take place around the time of the revisions.

The power of competition advocacy: Dynamic pricing offers real benefits for residential electricity customers

This will come as no shock to anyone familiar with the Federal Trade Commission’s policy and advocacy function: FTC staff has a long history of advocating for effective competition and consumer protection in electricity markets.

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