Competition Matters

Mergers II leadership

I am pleased to announce that Ben Gris has been promoted to Assistant Director of the Mergers II Division. Ben joined Mergers II in 2006 from private practice, and became a Deputy Assistant Director of the shop in 2011.

The not-so-big news about Big Data

Everywhere these days, folks are talking about big data. (Apparently, even machines are talking amongst themselves using big data in an ecosystem called the Internet of Things.)  Last week, Chairwoman Ramirez spoke about the privacy implications of the big data revolution, and specifically, about the FTC’s law enforcement efforts to protect consumer privacy from the risks associated with the collection and use of consumer data.

Double dog dare: Read FTC staff’s new report on pet medications competition

FTC staff has doggedly tracked down information about competition in the pet medications industry for the past several years. Why? Because it’s a large and growing consumer market. With 65 percent of American households owning a pet, and retail sales of prescription pet medications expected to top $10 billion by 2018, it is clearly a market where competition could benefit consumers. Most consumers pay for pet meds out-of-pocket and do not have pet health insurance that covers these expenses.

Sharing thoughts about the sharing economy

These days, the sharing economy is all around us. One person might use her smartphone to get an Uber ride to a dinner arranged through Feastly. Another might hire a Taskrabbit to clean up his garden for spring and order custom pots for his flowers from a seller on Etsy. But do these new services come with risks to competition and consumers? And how should regulations governing traditional suppliers be tailored to apply to them?

From the antitrust mailbag: What can the FTC do about prescription drug price spikes?

Consumers frequently contact the Bureau of Competition to alert us that the cost of a prescription drug suddenly spiked up, and ask if the FTC can take antitrust action to bring the price back down. The answer in a nutshell is that it depends on the reason for the price change.

Direct-to-consumer auto sales: It’s not just about Tesla

A fundamental principle of competition is that consumers – not regulation – should determine what they buy and how they buy it. Consumers may benefit from the ability to buy cars directly from manufacturers – whether they are shopping for luxury cars or economy vehicles. The same competition principles should apply in either case.

How to avoid delays when paying HSR filing fees

The PNO handles Hart-Scott-Rodino Premerger Notification Filings for well over a thousand transactions each year. Each transaction requires the acquiring person to pay an HSR filing fee, which must be paid within two days of filing an HSR Form in order for the HSR waiting period to begin. If payment isn’t received on time, the PNO will "bounce" the filing as incomplete and delay the start of the waiting period. Here are some tips to help ensure that your HSR filing fee payment is received and processed promptly.

Divestitures may include assets outside the market

According to the Bureau’s Statement on Negotiating Merger Remedies, the goal of a structural merger remedy is to maintain or restore competition in the markets affected by the merger while allowing the parties to proceed with those parts of the merger that do not raise competitive concerns. Usually, this approach results in a Commission order to divest key assets or capabilities to a buyer that will become a new competitor in the market and that can maintain the competitive status quo.

Power shopping for an alternative buyer

In recent investigations of hospital mergers, the merging parties often make the argument that the acquired firm is flailing, if not outright failing. Thus, the argument goes, the transaction is necessary to keep the acquired hospital in operation. But courts have set stringent requirements for meeting the failing firm defense, and as set out in the Horizontal Merger Guidelines §11, a company can assert what is known as a “failing firm” defense only if

Changes to Commission Rule 3.26 re: Part 3 proceedings following federal court denial of a preliminary injunction

From time to time, the Commission revises its rules of practice in the interest of fairness, flexibility and efficiency—in other words, to improve the process it relies on for its investigations, studies and adjudicative proceedings. For instance, in 2009, the Commission made comprehensive changes that overhauled the Commission’s Part 3 adjudicative proceedings with the main goal of addressing concerns that they were too protracted.

Milestones in FTC history: HSR Act launches effective premerger review

Some will remember 1976 as the year of the nation’s bicentennial, but it was also the year that Congress gave the antitrust agencies an important tool to prevent harmful mergers before the harm occurs and before the assets and operations of the merging parties are joined in a way that precludes effective relief after-the-fact. 

Comments due by March 17 on proposed Merger Remedy study

There is still time to submit public comments on the FTC’s proposal to study the effectiveness of its remedial orders in merger cases. Fifteen years have passed since the Bureau’s previous Divestiture Study, which resulted in a number of important findings that caused the Commission to refine its approach and improve its orders.

Separating fact from opinion

Although FTC staff often rely on voluntary requests for information in the early stages of an investigation, the use of official subpoena and civil investigative demands authorized by the Commission is essential to uncover potential law violations, and when necessary, to pursue a law enforcement action in court to remedy any harm to competition.

Supreme Court: Self-interested boards must be actively supervised

Yesterday, the Supreme Court affirmed the Fourth Circuit’s decision to uphold the FTC’s order against the North Carolina State Board of Dental Examiners In a tour-de-force opinion laying out the proper scope of the state action doctrine first articulated in Parker v.

FTC Milestone: A New Age Dawns for the FTC’s Competition Work

As anyone of a certain age can attest, the 1970’s were all about change. Hairstyles and hemlines were obvious signs, but in the world of antitrust, change came in the form of applying competition standards to the “learned professions,” and new thinking about the role of competition in helping contain health care costs.

Examining health care competition: appointment reminder

Reminder: your appointment is coming up soon! Staff of the Federal Trade Commission and the U.S. Department of Justice Antitrust Division just posted the agenda for next week’s two-day health care workshop. One look, and you won’t need a second opinion – you definitely will want to attend.

9th Circuit affirms: St Luke’s/Saltzer merger violates Section 7

The Ninth Circuit today affirmed the district court’s ruling that the merger of St. Luke’s Health Systems, Ltd. and Saltzer Medical Group violated Section 7 of the Clayton Act. Nearly two years ago, the Commission and the State of Idaho filed a complaint in federal court alleging that the combination of St.

Pages