International Monthly: December 2017

 U.S. Competition, Consumer Protection and Privacy News




Officials from the United States, Canada, and Mexico Participate in Trilateral Meeting

Antitrust agency heads from the United States, Canada, and Mexico met in Washington, DC to discuss their ongoing work to ensure fair and effective antitrust enforcement and increased cooperation among the three nations.

titanium dioxide

FTC Challenges Proposed Titanium Dioxide Merger

The FTC issued an administrative complaint challenging the proposed merger of two major titanium dioxide companies, alleging that the combination of Tronox Limited and Cristal would reduce competition for white pigment used in a variety of products ranging from paint to plastic.

FTC Requires Retail Fuel Station Divestiture

Retail fuel station and convenience store operator Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. agreed to divest 3 fuel stations in Alabama to a buyer or buyers acceptable to the FTC as a condition of acquiring Jet-Pep, Inc.

FTC Requires Divestiture of Referral Service

As a condition of Red Venture’s acquiring Bankrate, the merging parties agreed to divest senior living facilities referral service to address FTC concerns that the proposed acquisition would likely harm competition for third-party paid referral services for senior living facilities.

Consumer Protection and Privacy

Online Lingerie Marketer Prohibited from Deceiving Shoppers About Negative-Option Programs

An online lingerie marketer has agreed to return more than $1.3 million to customers to settle FTC charges that it deceived shoppers who enrolled in a negative-option membership program offering discounts and other benefits, and made it hard for them to cancel their memberships.

deceptive advertising and billing infographic

Internet Marketers Banned from Deceptive Advertising and Billing Practices

A vast network of online marketers agreed to settle FTC charges that they sold more than 40 weight-loss, muscle-building, and wrinkle-reduction products to consumers using unsubstantiated health claims, fake magazine and news sites (that used mastheads similar to those of popular publications), bogus celebrity endorsements, and phony consumer testimonials. The FTC ‘s complaint also alleged that the defendants used deceptive offers of “free” and “risk-free” trials, and automatically enrolled consumers without their consent in negative option auto-ship programs with additional monthly charges.

dietary supplements

Dietary Supplement Sellers Settle FTC False Advertising Charges

A group of dietary supplement sellers have settled FTC charges that they deceptively marketed and sold products to prevent or treat everything from the common cold to high blood pressure and HIV/AIDS. The court order settling the FTC’s complaint bars them from similar future misrepresentations and prevents them from using fake testimonials or certification seals.

In Other News

western union

FTC Reminds Consumers to File Claims for Refund from Western Union’s $586 Million Settlement

The FTC is alerting consumers who lost money to scammers who told them to pay via Western Union’s money transfer system between January 1, 2004, and January 19, 2017, that they can now file a claim to get their money back. Refunds may be claimed by going to before February 12. The refund program follows a settlement with the Western Union Company, which in January 2017 agreed to pay $586 million to resolve charges brought by the FTC and the U. S. Department of Justice. Non-U.S. consumers who lost money through fraud-induced wire transfers may also file claims for refunds.

financial report

FTC Issues Annual Agency Financial Report

The FTC issued its Fiscal Year 2017 Agency Financial Report, which describes the strong fiscal management and key program performance of the agency during the past year. The report highlights FTC accomplishments in its missions of protecting consumers and promoting competition, and reaffirms the agency’s commitment to efficient and effective stewardship of taxpayer resources.

contact lens

FTC to Hold Public Workshop on Contact Lens Sales

The FTC will hold a public workshop in Washington, DC, on March 7 to explore issues regarding competition in the contact lens marketplace, consumer access to contact lenses, prescription release and portability, and related subjects. The workshop is being held in conjunction with the Commission’s regulatory review of the Contact Lens Rule.

FTC Staff Seeks Empirical Research and Comments on Certificates of Public Advantage

FTC staff issued a public notice encouraging academic and industry research on the impact of certificates of public advantage (COPA) on prices, quality, access, and innovation for healthcare services. The notice also seeks public comments regarding the benefits or harms that have resulted from COPAs or other state-based regulatory approaches intended to control healthcare prices and improve quality.

ftc seal

FTC Issues Reports on Drug Firm Patent Settlements and Ethanol Market Concentration

FTC Staff issued a report on branded drug firms’ patent settlements with generic competitors filed with the FTC and the Department of Justice during FY 2015.

The FTC also issued a report on ethanol market concentration, an annual report required by the Energy Policy Act of 2005 “to determine whether there is sufficient competition among industry participants to avoid price-setting and other anticompetitive behavior.”

FTC Consumer Blog Advises “Get Rid of Unwanted Apps”

The FTC sets out three ways consumers can help ensure that they are not granting permissions to sites and apps they no longer want to have through their social media accounts.