The Archives

Everything written by Alden Abbott on law, economics, and more

Will the FTC Reinvigorate an Antiquated Law that Raises Prices?

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Congress are showing renewed interest in a Great Depression-era law, the Robinson-Patman Act, that discourages sales discounts. This is bad news for hard-strapped American consumers, who have had to cope with prices that have risen more than 20% since February 2020. As such, reinvigorated enforcement of the RPA, a ... Will the FTC Reinvigorate an Antiquated Law that Raises Prices?

Should the Federal Government Regulate Artificial Intelligence?

Artificial intelligence is in the public-policy spotlight. In October 2023, the Biden administration issued its Presidential Executive Order on AI, which directed federal agencies to cooperate in protecting the public from potential AI-related harms. President Joe Biden said in his March 2024 State of the Union Address that government enforcers will crack down on the ... Should the Federal Government Regulate Artificial Intelligence?

Steeling to Block a Merger

In an April 17 address to United Steelworkers in Pittsburgh, President Joe Biden vowed that his administration would “thwart the acquisition of U.S. Steel by a Japanese company,” Nippon Steel, telling the assembled union members that U.S. Steel “has been an iconic American company for more than a century and it should remain totally American.” ... Steeling to Block a Merger

US v. Apple Lawsuit Has Big Implications for Competition and Innovation

The lawsuit filed yesterday by the U.S. Justice Department (DOJ) against Apple for monopolization of the U.S. smartphone market (joined by 15 states and the District of Columbia) has big implications for American competition and innovation. At the heart of the complaint is the DOJ’s assertion that: [Apple’s] anticompetitive acts include, but are not limited ... US v. Apple Lawsuit Has Big Implications for Competition and Innovation

Will the FTC Scupper the Kroger/Albersons Merger?

The press is abuzz with news about the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) Feb. 26 announcement that it would challenge the proposed Kroger/Albertsons mega-supermarket merger, which had been in the works since the fall of 2022. If the FTC succeeds in obtaining a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction in Oregon federal district court (a big ... Will the FTC Scupper the Kroger/Albersons Merger?

The FTC Should Not Enact a Deceptive or Unfair Marketing Earnings-Claims Rule

Back in February 2022, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM) on “deceptive or unfair earnings claims.” According to the FTC: [The Deceptive or Unfair ANPRM was aimed at] challenging bogus money-making claims used to lure consumers, workers, and prospective entrepreneurs into risky business ventures that often turn into ... The FTC Should Not Enact a Deceptive or Unfair Marketing Earnings-Claims Rule

Using Bayh-Dole March-in to Set Patent Price Controls: An Assault on American Innovation

Under the Bayh-Dole Act, the federal government has the right to “march in” on patents on inventions created using taxpayer funds—to require the patentholder to license the federally funded patent to other applicants. The terms of the license must be “reasonable under the circumstances.” The act limits the exercise of march-in to specific circumstances related ... Using Bayh-Dole March-in to Set Patent Price Controls: An Assault on American Innovation

A European Commission Challenge to iRobot’s Acquisition Is Unjustified and Would Harm Dynamic Competition

Once again, a major competition agency, the European Commission, appears poised to take an anticompetitive enforcement action—in this case, blocking Amazon’s acquisition of consumer robotic-manufacturer iRobot. iRobot, headquartered in Bedford, Massachusetts, is an American success story: Founded in 1990 by Massachusetts Institute of Technology roboticists with the vision of making practical robots a reality, iRobot ... A European Commission Challenge to iRobot’s Acquisition Is Unjustified and Would Harm Dynamic Competition

FTC v. Illumina/Grail – A Rare FTC Merger Victory? (Actually, a Loss for Consumers)

Although it was overshadowed by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and U.S. Justice Department’s (DOJ) year-end release of the 2023 merger guidelines, one should also note the abrupt end of the FTC v. Illumina/Grail saga. The saga finished with the FTC’s Dec. 18 press release announcing that Illumina decided on Dec.17 to divest itself of ... FTC v. Illumina/Grail – A Rare FTC Merger Victory? (Actually, a Loss for Consumers)

The Porcine 2023 Merger Guidelines (The Pig Still Oinks)

Well, they have done it. On Dec. 18, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and U.S. Justice Department (DOJ) issued their final 2023 merger guidelines, as an early New Year’s gift (nicely sandwiched between Hanukkah, which ended Dec. 15, and Christmas) of the porcine sort. The two agencies try to put lipstick on this pig by ... The Porcine 2023 Merger Guidelines (The Pig Still Oinks)

A Consumer-Welfare-Centric Reform Agenda for the Federal Trade Commission

As we approach a presidential election year, it is time to begin developing a  comprehensive reform agenda for the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). In that spirit, this post proposes 12 reforms that could be implemented by new leadership, either through unilateral action by a new chair or (in some cases) majority votes of the commission. ... A Consumer-Welfare-Centric Reform Agenda for the Federal Trade Commission

Where Are the New FTC Rules?

Perhaps more than at any time in its history, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) under Chair Lina Khan has highlighted substantive rulemaking as a central element of its policy agenda. But despite a great deal of rule-related sound and fury (signifying nothing?), new final rules have yet to emerge, and do not appear imminent. This ... Where Are the New FTC Rules?