On June 15, 2023, the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Competition issued a statement on the relationship between voluntary interviews with the agency and contractual provisions that require or limit the disclosure of information. The Bureau explains that voluntary interviews are a key aspect of investigations because they “are essential to help [them] understand real-world dynamics and effects,” and “reduce unnecessary burdens on marketplace stakeholders and Bureau staff.” In the statement, the Bureau asserts that certain contractual restrictions impede investigations, and should be considered void.
The FTC has announced penalties in two separate enforcement actions totaling almost $2 million for alleged violations of the HSR Act. The matters: U.S. v. Clarence L. Werner c/o Werner Enterprises, Inc.; and U.S. v. Biglari Holdings Inc. include claims of failures to file notification under the HSR Act and…
In the United States, the scale of trade secret theft is estimated to be between $180 billion and $450 billion annually. Among the targets of this theft are pharmaceutical companies, which are some of the most research-intensive institutions in the world. Pharmaceutical research generally requires extensive work and often generates…
Under the Clayton Act (15 U.S. Code § 18), certain business acquisitions are prohibited where “the effect of such acquisition may be substantially to lessen competition, or to tend to create a monopoly.” Long-standing jurisprudence has established that merger challenges require, at the outset, a prima facie showing of the likelihood of a substantial lessoning of competition that would result from the merger or acquisition. Such prima facie showing typically takes the form of claims and evidence related to market shares above a certain level, but can take other forms.
On May 19, 2021, the United Kingdom’s Competition and Markets Authority (“CMA”) and the Information Commissioner’s Office (“ICO”) published a joint statement setting out their shared views on the relationship between competition and data protection in the digital economy.
Both authorities recognize that the digital economy has the potential to have a hugely positive impact on people’s lives, from improvements to public services to companies driving innovations that can make. However, they have made clear that their collective position is that this can best be achieved where digital markets are competitive, consumer and data protection rights are respected, and citizens are empowered to exercise meaningful control over their own data. In their view, there are strong synergies between the interests of data protection and competition, as demonstrated by the close working relationship which has developed between the CMA and ICO in recent years.
The tide of regulation of cryptocurrency and blockchain could be turning in the United States. Following comments by newly-confirmed Treasury Secretary (and former Federal Reserve Chair) Janet Yellen describing Bitcoin as “inefficient” and “extremely volatile,” the price of the coin dropped 10% in 24 hours. During her confirmation hearings, Yellen described cryptocurrencies as a “particular concern” and signaled that the Treasury would begin examining blockchain-based financial networks. On the heels of Secretary Yellen’s comments, Congressman Patrick McHenry (R-NC), head of the House Financial Services Committee, and Congressman Stephen F. Lynch (D-MA), Chair of the Financial Technologies Task Force, introduced H.R. 1602, bipartisan legislation which directs the CFTC and the SEC to “jointly establish a digital asset working group” to “provide regulatory clarity” and to “create a critical collaboration [between the two agencies to] create fair and transparent markets.” Notably absent from this proposed collaboration is any mention of antitrust enforcement or involvement of the DOJ antitrust division or the FTC. However, recent comments by outgoing DOJ chair Makan Delrahim provide clues as to how antitrust may play a part in the regulatory framework for blockchain and cryptocurrency.
Across the globe, an increasing number of international regulators have opened inquiries or adopted new rules and regulations to address competition law concerns about digital platforms and digital markets. Whilst the spotlight is likely to initially fall on the conduct and business practices of large online platforms – the so-called gatekeepers – we expect international regulators to cast their net more broadly. Businesses looking to expand to new jurisdictions need to navigate these regulations and assess the risk of enforcement actions. Whether the expansion comes through acquisitions or otherwise, regulators are increasingly looking at multinational businesses and platforms. Below is an overview of key international developments.
“Mark my words: Change is coming. Laws are coming.” That was the warning David Cicilline (D-RI) – the House Judiciary Antitrust, Commercial, and Administrative Law Subcommittee Chairman – gave on February 25th at the first in a series of hearings following the Subcommittee’s 16-month probe into Big Tech’s gatekeeping power. This one, titled Reviving Competition, Part 1: Proposals to Address Gatekeeper Power and Lower Barriers to Entry Online, focused on three proposed reforms: interoperability and data portability requirements, nondiscrimination rules, and structural separation. The majority of the hearing witnesses, ranging from the CEO of Mapbox to the Director the Competition Advocacy Program at the Global Antitrust Institute, were clear supporters for these proposed reforms. While none are new ideas, each, if passed, would be a significant sea change in competition law.