International Monthly: February 2016

 
 U.S. Competition, Consumer Protection and Privacy News
 

FEBRUARY 2016

Competition

FTC Report Shows Potential Pay-for-Delay Deals Decreased Substantially Following Supreme Court’s Actavis Decision

An FTC Staff Report on drug patent settlements showed potential pay-for-delay deals decreased substantially in the first year after the Supreme Court’s 2013 landmark antitrust decision in FTC v. Actavis. In its Actavis decision, the Supreme Court held that a branded drug manufacturer’s reverse payment to a generic competitor to settle patent litigation can violate U.S. antitrust laws. The report summarizes data on patent settlements – which can arise between brand and generic drug companies – filed with the FTC and the Department of Justice during FY 2014 under the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003. For further insight into the Report, read the blog post, “Is FTC v. Actavis Causing Pharma Companies to Change Their Behavior?”

Commissioner Ohlhausen Testifies Before Congress on Occupational Licensing

FTC Commissioner Maureen Ohlhausen testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights about competition perspectives on the licensing and regulation of occupations, trades, and professions and the state action doctrine. The testimony focused on the Commission’s competition enforcement work relating to regulatory boards. It also highlighted recent competition advocacy efforts related to state licensing requirements, including restrictions on advanced practice registered nurses, such as mandatory supervision arrangements.

FTC Staff Submit Comment Regarding Proposed Dental Services Measure in Georgia

In response to a request from a Georgia State Senator, FTC staff submitted a comment regarding proposed legislation that would broaden the types of settings under which Georgia dental hygienists are allowed to provide preventive care without the direct supervision of a dentist. The comment states that that the proposed legislation “would likely enhance competition in the provision of preventive dental care services and thereby benefit Georgia consumers, particularly underserved populations with limited access to preventive care.”

Consumer Protection and Privacy

FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez Issues Statement on the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield Agreement

On February 2, FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez issued the following statement about U.S. and EU officials reaching the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield agreement in Brussels, Belgium:

“We are pleased that U.S. and European Commission officials have reached an agreement in principle which, once finalized, will allow for the continuation of an important mechanism for transatlantic data transfers. Under the new agreement, the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield, the Federal Trade Commission will continue to prioritize enforcement of the framework as part of our broader commitment to protect consumers' personal information and privacy. We will continue to work closely with our European partners to ensure consumer privacy is protected on both sides of the Atlantic.”

FTC Brings Enforcement Action Against For-Profit University

The FTC filed suit against the operators of DeVry University, alleging that DeVry’s advertisements deceived consumers about the likelihood that students would find jobs in their fields of study, and would earn more than those graduating with bachelor's degrees from other colleges or universities. In its complaint, the FTC alleges that the defendants’ claims that 90 percent of DeVry graduates actively seeking employment landed jobs in their field within six months of graduation, and that its graduates had 15 percent higher average incomes one year after graduation than other graduates, were deceptive.

FTC Releases 2015 Privacy and Data Security Update

The FTC has released its 2015 Privacy and Data Security Update, highlighting initiatives undertaken by the agency last year, including law enforcement, reports, public workshops, educational efforts, and international cooperation. The report highlights the most recent cases brought by the FTC out of over 130 spam and spyware, over 40 general privacy, over 50 data security, over 100 credit reporting and financial privacy, nearly 40 U.S.-EU Safe Harbor, over 20 children’s privacy, and over 120 Do Not Call Rule cases the agency has brought over the years. The report documents the launch of the recently-enhanced IdentityTheft.gov, a new resource to help people report and recover from identity theft. It also discusses recent workshops and reports on the Internet of Things, cross-device tracking, and online lead generation. The FTC also issued Start with Security, a guide for businesses that want to avoid data security pitfalls.

In Other News

FTC Announces Significant Enhancements to IdentityTheft.gov

cropped id theft graphic

Identity theft victims can go online and get a free, personalized identity theft recovery plan as a result of significant enhancements to the FTC’s IdentityTheft.gov website. The new website allows consumers who are victims of identity theft to rapidly file a complaint and then get a personalized guide to recovery that helps streamline many of the steps involved. The upgraded site is also available in Spanish at RobodeIdentidad.gov.

FTC Announces Annual Update of Thresholds for Premerger Notification Filings and Interlocking Directorates

The FTC revised the monetary thresholds for reporting proposed mergers and acquisitions to the FTC and Department of Justice, Antitrust Division under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Act. The FTC revises the thresholds annually. As a result of this revision, the size-of-transaction threshold will increase from $76.3 million for 2015 to $78.2 million for 2016. The FTC also revised the thresholds that trigger prohibitions preventing interlocking directorships. A full listing of current thresholds can be found on the FTC’s website, which will be updated once the revised thresholds are published in the Federal Register.

FTC ‘Fotonovela’ Tells Latino Community How to Avoid Car-Buying Problems

fotonovella - auto - graphic

The FTC is offering its newest Spanish-language fotonovela, Manuel esquiva un lío al comprar un carro, which tells readers how to avoid car buying trouble. The fotonovela tells a story of what happens when a family buys a minivan with dealer financing, only to be told later by the dealer that the financing has fallen through and that, to keep the car, they have to accept a new, more expensive deal. Manuel esquiva un lío al comprar un carro is part of the FTC’s initiative to raise awareness about scams targeting the Latino community. Consumers can order free copies of this new fotonovela in Spanish at ftc.gov/bulkorder or download it at ftc.gov/fotonovela. An English version of the fotonovela is available at consumer.ftc.gov/fotonovela. More tips for car shoppers are available at consumer.ftc.gov/topics/buying-owning-car.