Competition Matters

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.

Examining health care competition: time for the next check-up

Take a deep breath and hold it. Release. Now open your mouth and say, “aaahhh.”

Just as it is prudent to have your health examined regularly by professionals, we believe it is wise to periodically examine the competitive dynamics in the ever-evolving health care marketplace, a critical sector of the American economy.

HSR threshold adjustments and reportability – 2015 edition

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. 

Unflattering resemblance

As discussed in a previous blog post, trade association members are subject to the same antitrust rules of the road as other companies or individuals who happen to be competitors. That means no price fixing, bid rigging, customer allocation or market division allowed, because these types of agreements are so plainly harmful that courts have condemned them as per se violations of the antitrust laws.

How to avoid common HSR filing mistakes with Item 4(c) and 4(d) documents

The PNO handles Hart-Scott-Rodino Premerger Notification Filings for well over a thousand transactions each year. When you submit an HSR Form with all of the required information, the PNO can quickly review the filing, and if necessary, forward it to the investigative staff who will focus on determining whether the acquisition presents competitive issues that warrant further review.

Ten Competition Happenings for 2014

This is the week for lists, so here’s one for competition watchers looking for something to read in between watching football games and reading other lists.  In addition to the many speeches by the Chairwoman and Commissioners on a wide variety of topics, here are some key FTC competition documents worth a second look from the year that was:

PNO closed on December 26

Per an executive order by President Obama, executive branch non-Postal Service employees are excused from duty on Friday, Dec. 26, 2014. The Premerger Notification Office will not be open to accept HSR filings on that date. Please note that this will not change HSR waiting periods. If you have a filing with a waiting period scheduled to end on Dec. 26, 2014, that waiting period will not be affected.

Information exchange: be reasonable

Each day companies seek out market information to gain insights on how to compete more effectively.  When companies compete more effectively, that can be good for consumers, making more and better goods and services available to them at lower prices. But when competing companies seek market intelligence by exchanging price or other commercially sensitive information, that may facilitate collusion or otherwise harm competition and consumers in violation of the antitrust laws.

Turning a page at the PNO

Every day, the Premerger Notification Office processes premerger notification filings for transactions reportable under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Act. The numbers are daunting: over 1,400 transactions requiring more than 2,800 filings in an average year. Not only does the PNO keep up with this volume, its staff of HSR specialists screens each filing for HSR compliance and identifies which transactions require further review.

FTC Milestones: Weighing in on weight loss cases

“No need to be fat. No need to diet or go through unpleasant exercise.”
“Your thin friends can tell you the right way to fight fat.”

“Men avoided me. I was too fat.”

Sounds like a lot of the bogus diet promotions the FTC has gone to court to shut down. But there are two things different about this false advertising case.

First, it went to the Supreme Court. And second, the year was 1931.

December tidings

I am pleased to announce the addition of two highly experienced antitrust litigators to the Bureau of Competition.  In a happy coincidence of timing, David Laing and Tara Reinhart will both be joining the Bureau from private practice on December 15. They will report directly to Deputy Director Steve Weissman and to me. Tara and David will handle both federal court and administrative litigation. They will often be involved in cases early on—before we’ve reached a decision on our recommendation to the Commission—to help determine whether litigation is appropriate.

Living in the moment

As the FTC celebrates its Centennial, we are thankful for all of the very talented folks who chose to spend part or all of their career with us protecting consumers and promoting competition. You can visit FTC Moments to read, hear, or watch as present and former FTC’ers share special moments from their time with the agency. And if you only have a moment, here are our highlights. If you are an FTC alum, we’d love to have your moment added to the collection!

FTC Milestones: Making the case for reform of public utility holding company laws

From its earliest days, the Commission has used its authority under Section 6 of the FTC Act to gain a deep understanding of competitive conditions in a variety of industries. In its first two decades alone, the FTC produced more than 100 studies or responses to general inquiries, most often pursuant to Congressional resolutions or Presidential orders. Information and insight gained in these inquiries generated policy recommendations to tackle the pressing needs of the nation in the face of changing market conditions.

FTC Milestones: Shared beginnings in the Circle Cilk case

In celebration of the FTC’s 100th anniversary, we’ve been examining the leaves on our family tree. The FTC’s founding is often associated with turn-of-the-century trust busting, but a closer look – including a study of the very first case published in Volume 1 of Federal Trade Commission Decisions – proves that the intertwined roots of consumer protection and competition run deep. That’s one of the themes of the FTC@100 Symposium on Friday, November 7, 2014.

FTC@100: A special week

This is a special week for the Federal Trade Commission. On Thursday evening, November 6, along with the Antitrust Section of the ABA, the FTC will host our 100th Anniversary Dinner, a public event for FTC staff, alumni, friends, and supporters. Information about the event and tickets can be found on the event’s registration page.

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