In the Matter of General Workings Inc. also doing business as Vulcun ., File No. 152-3159
I served the Commission for 34 years as a staff attorney, almost all in the Bureau of Competition. I urge the Commission not to accept the proposed consent agreement and return it to the staff with instructions to modify the complaint to allege that Respondents committed an unfair method of competition in acquiring Running Fred and to seek an order provision requiring Respondents to notify the Commission of any acquisition of any game. I urge this action for four reasons: (1) The proposed consent order fails to obtain complete relief. The complaint alleges that "Respondents' conduct had two parts. First, Respondents acquired a popular browser-based game called Running Fred and replaced it entirely with their own software program, called Weekly Android Apps, on users' desktops. Users of Running Fred were not informed that the game had been replaced." Yet the proposed order seeks no relief as to the first of the "two parts." (2) The notification requirement is needed. The complaint does not disclose the purchase price of Running Fred. The fact that it does not state that Respondents reported the transaction suggests that it failed to meet the HSR reporting threshold. And it seems highly unlikely that any future game acquisition would be reportable. Requiring such reporting would allow the Commission to monitor Respondents´ conduct and deter future violations. (3) An order with a notification requirement would affirm the Commission´s unique mandate and institutional capability. Many Commissioners have noted the complementarity of the Commissions consumer protection and competition missions. Yet rarely has it taken enforcement action on both bases. It should seize this opportunity. (4) An order with a notification requirement would enhance deterrence. Other firms that seek to exploit acquisitions by engaging in deception would be on notice that the consequences of that conduct would carry heavier penalties. ============================= A more general point about the commenting process. I notice that the online form does not request an email address. I think the Commmission´s budget and the President´s climate change policy would be served by sending responses to comments via email (except where the commenter asks for a reply via USPS).