International Monthly: June 2018

 
 U.S. Competition, Consumer Protection and Privacy News
 

JUNE 2018

Competition

Northrop logo

FTC Imposes Conditions on Acquisition of Solid Rocket Motor Supplier

Northrop Grumman agreed to supply solid rocket motors to competitors on a non-discriminatory basis as part of a settlement resolving charges that Northrup’s $7.8 billion acquisition of aerospace and defense contractor Orbital ATK likely would be anticompetitive.

Administrative Law Judge Dismisses Complaint Against Generic Pharmaceutical Company

FTC Chief Administrative Law Judge D. Michael Chappell dismissed antitrust charges in the FTC’s complaint challenging a reverse-payment agreement between generic pharmaceutical company Impax Laboratories and Endo Pharmaceuticals. The Judge’s initial decision is subject to review by the full Commission. Both parties have filed a notice of appeal.

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Competition in the Residential Real Estate Brokerage Industry

The FTC and DOJ held a joint public workshop in Washington, DC to explore competition issues in the residential real estate brokerage industry. The workshop focused on developments since the publication of the agencies’ 2007 Report on Competition in the Real Estate Brokerage Industry.

FTC Amicus Brief Urges Federal District Court Not to Exempt Generic Medicine Patent Infringement Suits from Antitrust Scrutiny

The FTC filed an amicus brief in Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. v Zydus Pharmaceuticals (USA) Inc., arguing that patent infringement suits brought under the Hatch-Waxman Act are not exempt from antitrust scrutiny.

FTC Staff Submits Comment to Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission

FTC staff submitted a comment to the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) on a proposed rulemaking that would update the regulation of retail electricity pricing transparency to residential and small commercial electricity customers. The staff comment supports the PUC’s efforts to preserve the ability of residential and small commercial electricity customers to choose dynamic pricing plans.

Consumer Protection and Privacy

FTC Action Halts Massive International Internet Business Coaching Scheme

The FTC has charged three individuals and nine businesses with defrauding thousands of consumers of more than $125 million with a fraudulent international online business education program called MOBE (“My Online Business Education”). A federal court halted the scheme and froze the defendants’ assets at the FTC’s request.

India call center fraud

FTC Engages Public and Private Partners to Combat Indian Call Center Fraud

The FTC conducted its third annual “Stepping up to Stop Indian Call Center Fraud” event in May. Many of these frauds involve impersonation of government agencies, such as taxing authorities, or well-known technology companies. The first day, co-sponsored with the U.S.-India Business Council, brought together more than 100 representatives from U.S. and foreign enforcement and private sector stakeholders, focused on technical defenses, law enforcement, consumer and business education, and international coordination. On the second day, law enforcement participants met to identify common targets and share investigative techniques. The participants will continue to coordinate efforts to battle these frauds.

Sentinel

Microsoft to Contribute Tech Support Fraud Complaints to FTC’s Consumer Sentinel Network

Microsoft, one of the private partners in the India call center fraud work, has agreed to transfer the roughly 150,000 tech support complaints it receives every month to the FTC’s Consumer Sentinel Network. This large data contribution will help promote tech support enforcement cases by Sentinel law enforcement agency members.

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Econsumer.gov Releases Top Complaint Categories for January to March

Did You Know? Econsumer.gov categorizes cross-border e-commerce complaints by product service codes, which describe the goods or services offered to the consumer. There are more than 100 codes, which you can download here. Check out the top complaint categories for January through March. Go to econsumer.gov to view the complete list. Contact Hui Ling Goh, hgoh@ftc.gov for more information on how to participate in econsumer.gov.

robocalls

FTC Sues to Stop Two Operations Responsible for Making Billions of Illegal Robocalls

The FTC has filed a complaint in federal district court seeking to stop two related operations and their principals who allegedly facilitated billions of illegal robocalls to consumers nationwide, pitching everything from auto warranties to home security systems and supposed debt relief services.

In Other News

FTC Chairman Joe Simons Adds to Agency’s Leadership Team

FTC Chairman Joseph Simons announced four additional appointments to the agency’s senior leadership team. The appointees are: Andrew Smith, Director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection; D. Bruce Hoffman, Director of the Bureau of Competition, having served as Acting Director since August 2017; Bruce H. Kobayashi, Director of the Bureau of Economics; and Alden Abbott, General Counsel, having served as Acting General Counsel since April. For their biographical details, click on the headline above. Chairman Simons previously announced that Tara Isa Koslov would serve as Interim Chief of Staff, after nearly two years as Acting Director of the Office of Policy Planning, and that Randolph W. Tritell would continue as Director of the Office of International Affairs. For their biographical details and for other appointments, click here.

capitol

FTC Testimony Highlights Agency's Work to Protect Consumers, Promote Competition

In testimony before a Senate subcommittee, FTC Chairman Joe Simons described the agency’s work to protect consumers and promote competition through vigorous enforcement, education, advocacy, and policy work, and by anticipating and responding to changes in the marketplace. He noted that the FTC is the only federal agency with jurisdiction to both protect consumers and maintain competition in most sectors of the economy, and testified that in FY 2017 the Commission returned more than $543 million in redress to consumers and deposited $94 million into the U.S. Treasury. For details click on the headline above.

cryptocurrency

FTC Releases Agenda for Workshop on Cryptocurrency Scams

The FTC has released its final agenda for a June 25 workshop in Chicago that will examine scams involving cryptocurrencies. This event will be webcast on the FTC’s website. The agency will post a webcast link on the event page on the day of the event.