Just in time for the peak 2001 holiday shopping season, the FTC has revised and reissued its business education publication: "In the Loupe: Advertising Diamonds, Gemstones and Pearls." Designed primarily to help retailers comply with the Commission's Guides for the Jewelry, Precious Metals, and Pewter Industries (Jewelry Guides), which were most recently updated in December of last year, the publication is also useful to consumers looking to buy diamonds, gemstones, or pearls for that special someone on their shopping list.
The revised publication includes all information relevant to the December 2000 Jewelry Guide amendments (an announcement of which can be found at www.ftc.gov/opa/2000/12/jewelryrule.htm), concerning disclosure requirements for permanent treatments such as laser drilling. These amendments became effective on April 10, 2001. The publication also contains general information about important disclosures regarding diamond weights; gemstone treatments like fracture filling and irradiation; and pearl descriptors such as the terms "cultured," "cultivated," "artificial," and "simulated." The publication is free to all interested businesses and consumers, and also includes information on how to manage a dispute with a customer about a jewelry representation, such as through alternative dispute resolution.
The Commission also has recently developed a new Web site (www.ftc.gov/os/statutes/jewelryjump.htm) designed to provide businesses and consumers with the most up-to-date information about the FTC's activities in the jewelry area, such as amendments to the Jewelry Guides, law enforcement actions, Internet enforcement "surfs," closed investigations, staff and Commission advisory opinions, and other educational materials. The site can be directly accessed using the URL above, or from the FTC's home page by clicking on the "Business Guidance" or "Consumer Protection" links and scrolling down to the link "Jewelry Guides and Information."
The Jewelry Guides are among the oldest of the Commission's business guides and are relied on extensively within the industry. For more information about either the updated business and consumer education publication or the new jewelry Web site, contact Robin Rosen Spector of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection at 202-326-3740 or the Commission's Consumer Response Center at 877-FTC-HELP.
Petition for Commission approval of certain amendments to two existing agreements:
The Commission has received a petition from The Dow Chemical Company (Dow) requesting FTC approval of certain amendments to the "Huntsman Agreement" and the "Ineos Agreement," both of which are incorporated into the decision and order in Docket No. C-3999 that concerns the merger of Dow and Union Carbide. The specific amendments requested by the company are detailed in the public version of the petition, which is available on the FTC's Web site at www.ftc.gov The company represents in the petition that the amendments have been reviewed and accepted by Huntsman and Ineos, as applicable. They further represent that the proposed amendments satisfy the purposes of the Commission's order.
The FTC is accepting public comments on the petition until January 7, 2002. Comments should be sent to: Federal Trade Commission, Office of the Secretary, 600 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580. (Docket No. C-3999; staff contact is Art Strong, Bureau of Competition, 202-326-3478; see press releases dated February 5 and March 16, 2001.)
Publication of Federal Register notice:
The Commission has approved publication of a Federal Register notice announcing a public roundtable regarding the Proposed Hague Convention on Jurisdiction and Foreign Judgments. As detailed in the notice, which will be published shortly and is posted on the Commission's Web site, on December 19, 2001 the FTC, in consultation with other government agencies, will hold a public roundtable discussion at FTC's headquarters in Washington, D.C. on the consumer aspects of the Proposed Hague Convention on Jurisdiction and Foreign Judgments being negotiated by the Hague Conference on Private International Law (the Convention).
Since 1992, the U.S. government, led by the State Department and assisted by the Department of Justice, Department of Commerce, FTC, and other agencies, has been negotiating the Convention, which would establish international rules on jurisdiction and enforcement of foreign judgments. The draft Convention that has been developed raises many issues, particularly in the areas of e-commerce for business-to-consumer (B2C) and business-to-business (B2B) transactions, where stakeholders disagree on appropriate jurisdiction rules. The U.S. delegation would like to explore with interested stakeholders the possibility of narrowing the Convention to areas where there seems to be consensus.
The purpose of the public roundtable is to allow all interested stakeholders to provide input to U.S. government officials on three specific issues raised by the draft Convention that are particularly relevant to consumer interests: B2C contracts, informational torts, and physical torts. Officials from the Department of State, Department of Commerce, and Library of Congress likely will participate in the meeting. An agenda for the roundtable and questions for topic discussions are provided in the Federal Register notice, as is detailed contact information for parties interested in attending. Pre-registration via e-mail, fax, or phone is required.
The Commission vote to approve publication of the Federal Register notice was 5-0. (FTC File No. P994313; staff contact is Maneesha Mithal, Bureau of Consumer Protection, 202-326-2771; the most recent draft of the Convention can be found at http://www.hcch.net/e/workprog/jdgm.html)
Application for approval of proposed acquisition, expedited review, and waiver of public comment period:
The Commission has received an application from CVS Corporation (CVS) requesting FTC approval of a proposed acquisition that is subject to a consent order reached with the Commission regarding the 1994 merger of Revco D.S., Inc. (Revco) and Hook-SupeRx, Inc. (HSI). As CVS purchased Revo in 1997, it is subject to the requirements of the Revco/HSI consent order. CVS has requested expedited review of its application and a waiver of the public comment period in this matter.
Under the terms of the Commission's order in the Revco/HSI matter, Revco and its successors are prohibited for 10 years from the date the order became final from acquiring any "stock, share capital, equity, leasehold, or other interest in any concern . . . presently engaged in . . . the business of selling prescription drugs at retail drug stores located in [Covington, Virginia]." In its application, which is posted on the Commission's Web site, CVS has requested FTC approval to purchase certain assets of the Horizon Pharmacies, Inc. (Horizon) store, which was purchased from HSI in 1996. The store was subsequently purchased by Pharmacy Operations, Inc. (POI), which now intends to close it.
The FTC is accepting public comments on the application until January 7, 2002. Comments should be sent to: Federal Trade Commission, Office of the Secretary, 600 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580. The public comment period may be shortened or eliminated if the Commission approves the applicant's request for a waiver. (Docket No. C-3540; staff contact is Daniel P. Ducore, Bureau of Competition, 202-326-2526; see press releases dated June 15, July 15, November 4, and December 19, 1994; March 17, 1995; February 8 and April 17, April 24, and November 1, 1996; May 30 and August 15, 1997; and March 27, 1998.)
Issues in econometrics analysis of scanner data:
The FTC's Bureau of Economics is engaged in a research project on the use of econometrics estimates of consumer demand using retail scanner data in investigations of branded products mergers. The Bureau expects to have an economics working paper ready for circulation in January 2002. This paper will more completely identify potentially significant issues and suggestions regarding how to determine and address issues in particular contexts.
A posting of a brief overview of the current issues under consideration can be found at www.ftc.gov/ftc/economic.htm. The purpose is to present the potentially significant issues that the Bureau believes economists engaged in branded product merger investigations should consider in their analyses. (Staff contact: Mike Vita, Bureau of Economics, 202-326-3493.)
Commission approval of proposed divestiture:
The Commission has approved a proposed divestiture by Lafarge S.A., et al. (Lafarge) related to its merger with Blue Circle, which was conditionally approved by the Commission on June 18, 2001. Through this action, the FTC has approved the divestiture of Blue Circle's Calera, Alabama lime assets to Peak Investments, L.L.C. (Peak), a company that owns and operates a number of businesses in the chemical area including a lime production facility in Australia. The Commission has also approved the appointment of William A. Troutman as the independent auditor in this matter. The Commission vote to approve the application was 5-0. (FTC File No. 001-0112, C-4014; staff contact is Roberta Baruch, Bureau of Competition, 202-326-2861; see press releases dated June 19; August 3, August 10, and October 16, 2001.)
Copies of the documents mentioned in this release are available from the FTC's Web site at http://www.ftc.gov and also from the FTC's Consumer Response Center, Room 130, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580. Call toll-free: 1-877-FTC-HELP.