Competition Matters

Pages

Shining a light on solar power

Look up and you just might see one: solar panels are on top of more homes and businesses than ever before. Around the country, rooftop solar is an increasingly important source of electricity. For many customers with solar panels, solar power provides most of their electricity; many even sell power back to the power company.

The President’s Competition Call to Action

Recently, President Obama issued a call to all executive departments and agencies “to promote competition, arm consumers and workers with the information they need to make informed choices, and eliminate regulations that restrict competition without corresponding benefits to the American public.” We here at the Federal Trade Commission are uniquely positioned to help in this effort.

Pausing (for a brief moment) to take stock

Once a year, the ABA Antitrust Section Spring Meeting presents the perfect occasion to take stock of the Bureau’s work. This has been an especially busy year for the Bureau of Competition, requiring extraordinary effort from our attorneys and support staff to keep up with the unprecedented litigation workload. As of today, we have multiple merger challenges in various stages of active litigation, as well as three federal court cases involving reverse patent settlements or sham litigation.

Quo Vadis Post-Actavis?

For more than 15 years, one of the FTC’s top priorities has been to put an end to anticompetitive reverse-payment settlements between brand-name drug makers and their potential generic rivals. In our view, these settlements are anticompetitive agreements not to compete in which the brand pays the generic to refrain from marketing a lower cost, generic product for a period of time.

Celebrating Women’s History Month at the FTC

“Oh, if I could but live another century and see the fruition of all the work for women. There is so much yet to be done.” – Suffragist Susan B. Anthony (1820-1906)

The consumer movement, trust-busting, the women’s movement, and the work of the FTC have traveled parallel (and often intersecting) paths. Women’s History Month offers us a chance to consider the contribution women have made to the mission of the FTC and the unprecedented moment in women’s history we’re witnessing at the FTC today.

Antitrust Violation vs. Injury-in-Fact: A distinction that makes a difference

There is a basic but important difference between antitrust cases brought by the government and those brought by private parties: All plaintiffs, including government enforcers like the FTC, must prove an antitrust violation, which requires showing harm to competition. But private plaintiffs must make an additional showing: to establish antitrust ‘standing,’ private plaintiffs must prove that the antitrust violation caused harm to them.

HSR threshold adjustments and reportability for 2016

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.

The FTC opens the hood on automobile distribution

For many of us, the holiday season involves at least one loooong automobile ride. We travel over the river and through the woods in our beloved cars, our trunks stuffed with presents for family and friends. Today, the way we buy those presents and the way we buy the car that carries them look very different. While the retail landscape has changed dramatically in the last 50 years, the system of automobile sales in the United States has stayed mostly the same. Are consumers benefitting from the current distribution system for automobiles or are changes needed?

Competition sparks improvements in local electricity markets

The New York State Public Service Commission is on a path to move away from traditional cost-of-service regulation for electric utilities. This is good news for New York consumers who might be looking to lower their electric bill or reduce their reliance on the power grid. In fact, the policy move is motivated by advances in energy technology, increased concerns about the environmental impact of fossil-fuel generation, and consumers’ interest in having more direct control over their electric service.

Pardon the interruption

During an antitrust investigation, we often hear that our concerns fail to account for disruptive forces that will soon emerge and shake up the competitive dynamic in the market in the near future—from an innovative newcomer or from the emergence of a completely new business model.  I recently went to the Pacific Northwest, a hotbed of innovation and new ideas, to talk about the role of disruptive business models in U.S. antitrust analysis.

Comings and goings

With a tinge of both nostalgia and anticipation, I am pleased to announce a number of management changes at the Bureau. As you may have heard, Deputy Director Steve Weissman will be returning to private practice shortly. Steve is heading back to Baker Botts, where he will help lead the firm’s antitrust group. Steve has been a terrific deputy with numerous accomplishments, including leading the FTC team to victory in FTC v. Sysco/US Foods.

Calculating the value of stock under HSR rules

The Hart-Scott-Rodino statute and rules contain a number of reporting thresholds for transactions subject to premerger notification filing with the FTC and DOJ. In this post, we are going to focus on how to value publicly traded stock in order to determine reportability under the various filing thresholds. Some of the most frequent questions we get involve how to value acquisitions of voting securities in 801.30 transactions, given the volatile nature of the stock market.

What are the HSR notification thresholds for voting securities?

Doing good well

Antitrust law seeks to promote efficiency and economic welfare. But companies may want to collaborate to advance other social objectives. I recently spoke at a program entitled “Antitrust Law and Corporate Social Responsibility,” hosted by the Council for International Business. The purpose of the program was to discuss whether and how companies can work together to achieve social welfare goals—such as environmental objectives, health and safety objectives, or labor objectives—without running afoul of the antitrust laws. I made two key points.

The when and what of active supervision

Earlier this year, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the North Carolina State Board of Dental Examiners violated the federal antitrust laws by preventing non-dentists from providing teeth whitening services in competition with the state’s licensed dentists. N.C. State Bd. of Dental Exam’rs v. FTC, 135 S. Ct. 1101 (2015). The Board had argued that, because it is a state agency, it is exempt from liability under the federal antitrust laws.

Pages