The Archives

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

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?

The Biden Executive Order on AI: A Recipe for Anticompetitive Overregulation

The Biden administration’s Oct. 30 “Executive Order on the Safe, Secure, and Trustworthy Development and Use of Artificial Intelligence” proposes to “govern… the development and use of AI safely and responsibly” by “advancing a coordinated, Federal Government-wide approach to doing so.” (Emphasis added.) This “all-of-government approach,” which echoes the all-of-government approach of the 2021 “Executive ... The Biden Executive Order on AI: A Recipe for Anticompetitive Overregulation

Draft Merger Guidelines Do Not ‘Return Antitrust to a Sound Economic and Legal Foundation’ – A Response to Professor Kwoka

In a recently published article in ProMarket, John Kwoka of Northeastern University (who “worked on the draft Merger Guidelines while serving at the Federal Trade Commission as chief economist to the chair in 2022”) asserts that the U.S. Justice Department (DOJ) and Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) draft merger guidelines aim to improve “deficient merger enforcement” ... Draft Merger Guidelines Do Not ‘Return Antitrust to a Sound Economic and Legal Foundation’ – A Response to Professor Kwoka

FTC’s Amazon Complaint: Perhaps the Greatest Affront to Consumer and Producer Welfare in Antitrust History

“Seldom in the history of U.S. antitrust law has one case had the potential to do so much good [HARM] for so many people.” – Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Bureau of Competition Deputy Director John Newman, quoted in a Sept. 26 press release announcing the FTC’s lawsuit against Amazon (correction IN ALL CAPS is mine) ... FTC’s Amazon Complaint: Perhaps the Greatest Affront to Consumer and Producer Welfare in Antitrust History

More FTC Overreach in Labor Markets

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and U.S. Labor Department (DOL) signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) this past week “to strengthen the Agencies’ partnership through greater cooperation and coordination in information sharing, investigations and enforcement activity, training, education, research, and outreach.” The accompanying Sept. 21 announcement is another example of FTC overreach, as it highlights ... More FTC Overreach in Labor Markets

The FTC, DOJ, and International Competition Law: Convergence Away From the Consumer Welfare Standard?

In less than two and a half years, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and U.S. Justice Department (DOJ) have undone more than two decades of work aimed at moving global competition law toward an economics-friendly consumer welfare standard. In tandem with foreign competition authorities, the U.S. antitrust agencies are now cooperating in an effort to ... The FTC, DOJ, and International Competition Law: Convergence Away From the Consumer Welfare Standard?

When Greg Werden Talks, the Courts May Be Expected to Listen

Among the many public-interest comments submitted on the draft merger guidelines proposed by the U.S. Justice Department (DOJ) and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) were those of Gregory Werden, who has been a visiting scholar at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University since late 2022. Why is Greg’s filing special? Simply put, he is the ... When Greg Werden Talks, the Courts May Be Expected to Listen