Competition Matters

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Economic Opportunity Across State Lines: Enhancing Occupational License Portability

Moving to a new state can be daunting—packing, finding a new place to live, looking into options for schools, and finding the best local pizzeria. But if you’re one of the millions of Americans who need a license in order to work, the biggest hurdle could be getting a license in your new state. And it’s likely to involve more than just paperwork and fees. Because licensing requirements often vary from state to state, you might have to take additional courses or obtain specialized on-the-job experience—even if you’ve been working in the same profession for years.

Turning up the volume on hearing care

Chirping birds, babbling brooks, soft rain showers, and children gleefully playing outdoors – these sounds of spring bring us joy, especially after a long winter. But for the millions of Americans who have hearing loss, full enjoyment of these and other everyday sounds can be out of reach. Others might benefit from listening assistance in certain situations, such as in a noisy restaurant or while watching TV. For too many, even participation in a simple conversation can be difficult.

Loveseats, lilies, and licensing: Economic liberty opens doors to opportunity

Should the government spend its time protecting consumers from ugly throw pillows or droopy floral arrangements? Should the government force an African hair-braiding expert to also study makeup application or nail art in order to work? Should a job-seeking military spouse be expected to comply with a whole new set of licensing requirements—and pay a hefty fee—every single time the family relocates to a different state?

HSR threshold adjustments and reportability for 2017

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.

Looking back (again) at FTC merger remedies

The newly released Remedy Study is the culmination of nearly two years of effort by FTC staff to look back at Commission merger orders from 2006 through 2012. We looked at 89 merger orders affecting 400 markets, with 79 divestitures to 121 buyers. We evaluated 50 of those orders using a case study method, interviewing nearly 200 businesses in a wide range of industries and collecting sales data from almost that many.

Have a plan to comply with the bar on horizontal interlocks

With some exceptions, Section 8 of the Clayton Act prohibits the same individual from serving as an officer or director of two competing corporations. Like other portions of the forward-looking Clayton Act (including Section 7 with its proscription on mergers that are likely to harm competition), Section 8 was designed to “nip in the bud incipient violations of the antitrust laws by removing the opportunity or temptation to such violations through interlocking directorates.” U.S. v. Sears, Roebuck & Co., 111 F. Supp. 614, 616 (S.D.N.Y. 1953).

A little piece of paper goes a long way to promote contact lens competition

More than 40 million U.S. consumers benefit from contact lens competition. Demand for contact lenses has been growing over the past decade, and there are more places for consumers to shop for contact lenses and refill their prescriptions – in-person from eye-care providers, optical chains, and wholesale clubs, and on-line as well. Innovation has improved the comfort and convenience of contact lenses, and many people have switched from one-year lenses to daily disposable lenses.

Taking a hard look at the asset package

On Monday, the FTC accepted for public comment a proposed consent order involving a consummated merger in the eye care industry. According to the complaint, Valeant Pharmaceuticals’ 2015 acquisition of Paragon Holdings reduced competition for polymer discs (aka buttons) used to make three types of rigid gas permeable (hard) contact lenses.

Competitive job markets offer more than just fringe benefits

Looking for a new job can be stressful, whether you are a new worker applying for your first job or a highly trained professional seeking to advance in your career. The last thing a job-seeker should have to worry about is a back-room deal among employers that keeps her from getting the job of her dreams or from being offered a fair salary.

LBOs and the size of transaction test

The Premerger Notification Office is often asked to give guidance on how to determine the value of a proposed merger or acquisition in light of the size of transaction test. The size of transaction test excludes transactions from the reporting requirements of the Hart-Scott-Rodino Act if they are valued below the annually adjusted dollar threshold. The current size of transaction threshold is $78.2 million.

New and improved HSR Form Instructions – plus filing by DVD

On August 26, 2016, the FTC, with the concurrence of the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice, took steps to make the process of completing and submitting Hart-Scott-Rodino premerger notification filings easier. The effective date of the new rules is today, September 1, 2016.

A compliance check for collaborators who also compete

Last week, Fortiline settled charges that it invited a competing seller of ductile iron pipe (DIP) to fix prices. This is the first case in which the FTC has challenged an invitation to collude by a firm that is in both a horizontal relationship (i.e., direct competitor) and a vertical relationship (i.e., manufacturer-distributor) with the invitee.

Snapshots vs. panoramic views of merger enforcement

Today the FTC and DOJ released the 38th Annual Hart-Scott-Rodino Report, which details the agencies’ merger review and enforcement program for Fiscal Year 2015 (October 1, 2014 through September 30, 2015). This report, like the 37 previous versions, is a snapshot of one year’s worth of HSR filings, Second Requests and merger enforcement actions, including HSR compliance and merger cases filed by the agencies in federal court.

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