The Archives

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

Mergers and Innovation: DOJ and FTC Take Heed

Economists have long recognized that innovation is key to economic growth and vibrant competition. As an Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) report on innovation and growth explains, “innovative activity is the main driver of economic progress and well-being as well as a potential factor in meeting global challenges in domains such as the ... Mergers and Innovation: DOJ and FTC Take Heed

State-Mandated Digital Book Licenses Offend the Constitution and Undermine Free-Market Principles

Various states recently have enacted legislation that requires authors, publishers, and other copyright holders to license to lending libraries digital texts, including e-books and audio books. These laws violate the Constitution’s conferral on Congress of the exclusive authority to set national copyright law. Furthermore, as a policy matter, they offend free-market principles. The laws interfere ... State-Mandated Digital Book Licenses Offend the Constitution and Undermine Free-Market Principles

7 Top Takeaways from the 2nd Annual Mercatus Antitrust Forum

At the Jan. 26 Policy in Transition forum—the Mercatus Center at George Mason University’s second annual antitrust forum—various former and current antitrust practitioners, scholars, judges, and agency officials held forth on the near-term prospects for the neo-Brandeisian experiment undertaken in recent years by both the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the U.S. Justice Department (DOJ). ... 7 Top Takeaways from the 2nd Annual Mercatus Antitrust Forum

The FTC’s NPRM on Noncompete Clauses: Flirting with Institutional Crisis

The Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) Jan. 5 “Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Non-Compete Clauses” (NPRMNCC) is the first substantive FTC Act Section 6(g) “unfair methods of competition” rulemaking initiative following the release of the FTC’s November 2022 Section 5 Unfair Methods of Competition Policy Statement. Any final rule based on the NPRMNCC stands virtually no ... The FTC’s NPRM on Noncompete Clauses: Flirting with Institutional Crisis

Patent Pools, Innovation, and Antitrust Policy

Late last month, 25 former judges and government officials, legal academics and economists who are experts in antitrust and intellectual property law submitted a letter to Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Kanter in support of the U.S. Justice Department’s (DOJ) July 2020 Avanci business-review letter (ABRL) dealing with patent pools. The pro-Avanci letter was offered in ... Patent Pools, Innovation, and Antitrust Policy

The New FTC Section 5 Policy Statement: Full of Sound and Fury, Signifying Nothing?

The Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) Nov. 10 Policy Statement Regarding the Scope of Unfair Methods of Competition Under Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act—adopted by a 3-1 vote, with Commissioner Christine Wilson issuing a dissenting statement—holds out the prospect of dramatic new enforcement initiatives going far beyond anything the FTC has done in ... The New FTC Section 5 Policy Statement: Full of Sound and Fury, Signifying Nothing?

Noah Phillips’ Major Contribution to IP-Antitrust Law: The 1-800 Contacts Case

Recently departed Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Commissioner Noah Phillips has been rightly praised as “a powerful voice during his four-year tenure at the FTC, advocating for rational antitrust enforcement and against populist antitrust that derails the fair yet disruptive process of competition.” The FTC will miss his trenchant analysis and collegiality, now that he has ... Noah Phillips’ Major Contribution to IP-Antitrust Law: The <em>1-800 Contacts</em> Case

FTC on the Gig Economy: The Glass is Almost Empty

The business press generally describes the gig economy that has sprung up around digital platforms like Uber and TaskRabbit as a beneficial phenomenon, “a glass that is almost full.” The gig economy “is an economy that operates flexibly, involving the exchange of labor and resources through digital platforms that actively facilitate buyer and seller matching.” ... FTC on the Gig Economy: The Glass is Almost Empty

Damn the Economics, Full Speed Ahead!

A White House administration typically announces major new antitrust initiatives in the fall and spring, and this year is no exception. Senior Biden administration officials kicked off the fall season at Fordham Law School (more on that below) by shedding additional light on their plans to expand the accepted scope of antitrust enforcement. Their aggressive ... Damn the Economics, Full Speed Ahead!

The FTC’s Pre-Acquisition Review Requirement for All Meta Deals: Hyper-Regulatory, Anti-Free Market, Anti-Rule of Law, and Anti-Consumer

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) wants to review in advance all future acquisitions by Facebook parent Meta Platforms. According to a Sept. 2 Bloomberg report, in connection with its challenge to Meta’s acquisition of fitness-app maker Within Unlimited,  the commission “has asked its in-house court to force both Meta and [Meta CEO Mark] Zuckerberg to ... The FTC’s Pre-Acquisition Review Requirement for All Meta Deals: Hyper-Regulatory, Anti-Free Market, Anti-Rule of Law, and Anti-Consumer

Potential Rulemaking on Commercial Surveillance and Data Security: The FTC Must Use Cost-Benefit Analysis

The Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) Aug. 22 Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Commercial Surveillance and Data Security (ANPRM) is breathtaking in its scope. For an overview summary, see this Aug. 11 FTC press release. In their dissenting statements opposing ANPRM’s release, Commissioners Noah Phillips and Christine Wilson expertly lay bare the notice’s serious deficiencies. ... Potential Rulemaking on Commercial Surveillance and Data Security: The FTC Must Use Cost-Benefit Analysis

The Bitter Fruits of Federal Antitrust ‘Reform’ Legislation

Much ink has been spilled regarding the potential harm to the economy and to the rule of law that could stem from enactment of the primary federal antitrust legislative proposal, the American Innovation and Choice Online Act (AICOA) (see here). AICOA proponents, of course, would beg to differ, emphasizing the purported procompetitive benefits of limiting ... The Bitter Fruits of Federal Antitrust ‘Reform’ Legislation