Broadcom Limited/Brocade Communications Systems, In the Matter of

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In the Matter of Broadcom Limited, a limited company, and Brocade Communications Systems, Inc., a corporation.
FTC Matter/File Number:

171 0027

Enforcement Type:

Part 2 Consents

Case Summary

Broadcom Limited has agreed to establish a firewall to remedy the FTC’s concerns that its proposed $5.9 billion acquisition of Brocade Communications Systems, Inc. is anticompetitive. These concerns arise because of Broadcom’s current access to the confidential business information of Brocade’s major competitor, Cisco Systems, Inc., that could be used to restrain competition or slow innovation in the worldwide market for fibre channel switches.Fibre channel switches are part of storage area networks that transfer data between servers and storage arrays in data centers. Because fibre channel switches can quickly and securely transfer large amounts of data, they are often used for mission-critical applications. According to the complaint, San Jose, California-based Broadcom makes the fibre channel application specific integrated circuits, or ASICs, that are custom-tailored to carry out the functions of each switch. Brocade and Cisco are the only two competitors in the worldwide market for fibre channel switches, and Broadcom supplies both companies with ASICs to make fibre channel switches. The complaint alleges that Broadcom’s acquisition of Brocade could harm worldwide competition in the fibre channel switch market because as Cisco’s supplier, Broadcom has extensive access to Cisco’s competitively sensitive confidential information.  The FTC order prevents Brocade from using Cisco’s competitively sensitive confidential information for any purpose other than the design, manufacturing and sale of fibre channel ASICs for Cisco. It requires Broadcom’s business group responsible for developing, producing, selling and marketing fibre channel ASICs for Cisco to have separate facilities and a separate information technology system with security protocols that allow access only to authorized individuals, and provides for other information firewall protections. To assure compliance, the Commission will appoint a monitor for five years, and the Commission may extend the appointment for up to an additional five years.