The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) today issued "Antitrust Guidelines for Collaborations Among Competitors." They are the first set of guidelines issued jointly by both federal antitrust agencies that address a broad range of horizontal agreements among competitors, including joint ventures, strategic alliances, and other competitor collaborations. The guidelines describe an analytical framework to assist businesses in assessing the likelihood of an antitrust challenge to a collaboration with one or more competitors.
Competitive forces of globalization and technology are driving firms toward complex collaborations to achieve goals such as expanding into foreign markets, funding expensive innovation efforts, and lowering production and other costs. The increasing varieties and use of collaborations by rivals have yielded requests for improved clarity regarding their treatment under the antitrust laws. Last October, the FTC, in consultation with DOJ's Antitrust Division, issued the guidelines in draft form to obtain advice and suggestions from businesses, consumers, and practitioners. Parties were requested to submit views by February 4, 2000.
"The 'Competitor Collaboration Guidelines' provide sound analytical guidance for a business environment characterized by increasing collaborative activity, " Chairman Pitofsky said. "The guidelines will help businesses assess the antitrust implications of collaborations with rivals, thereby encouraging procompetitive collaborations and deterring collaborations likely to harm competition and consumers. We thank all of those who participated in this process and provided thoughtful assistance and comments that helped bring the guidelines to fruition."
The vote to issue the guidelines was 5-0, with Commissioners Mozelle W. Thompson and Thomas B. Leary issuing separate statements.
Commissioner Thompson said, "I strongly support the guidelines because I believe they represent an important step in providing the public with an overview of our analysis of strategic collaborations and responding to an increasingly dynamic marketplace... The new guidelines will be useful in explaining how the FTC and DOJ analyze antitrust issues associated with these collaborations, although no set of guidelines can answer every question that might arise, and we acknowledge that there may be areas in which additional guidance is desirable."
Commissioner Leary said, "Although I do not necessarily agree with every statement in the guidelines, I believe that my individual differences are less important than the consensus view that they reflect. These guidelines give private counselors, who are on the front line of antitrust compliance efforts, valuable insights into the enforcement philosophy of the antitrust agencies."
Copies of the final guidelines are available from the FTC's web site at http://www.ftc.gov and also from the FTC's Consumer Response Center, Room 130, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580; 877-FTC-HELP (877-382-4357); TDD for the hearing impaired 1-866-653-4261. To find out the latest news as it is announced, call the FTC NewsPhone recording at 202-326-2710.