The Archives

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

Patent Eligibility, Competition, Innovation, Congress, and the Supreme Court

A highly competitive economy is characterized by strong, legally respected property rights. A failure to afford legal protection to certain types of property will reduce individual incentives to participate in market transactions, thereby reducing the effectiveness of market competition. As the great economist Armen Alchian put it, “[w]ell-defined and well-protected property rights replace competition by ... Patent Eligibility, Competition, Innovation, Congress, and the Supreme Court

Why FTC Competition Rulemaking Likely Will Fail

I. Introduction In over a century of existence, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has been a policy leader in developing American thinking about and in enforcing antitrust and consumer protection laws pursuant to several specific statutory mandates. It has also promulgated a substantial number of consumer protection rules, dealing with a wide variety of practices. ... Why FTC Competition Rulemaking Likely Will Fail

AICOA: An Affront to the Rule of Law

The fate of the badly misnamed American Innovation and Choice Online Act, S. 2992 (AICOA), may be decided by the August congressional recess. AICOA’s serious flaws have been ably dissected by numerous commentators (see, for example, here, here, here, and here). Moreover, respected former senior Democratic antitrust enforcers who have advocated more aggressive antitrust enforcement ... AICOA: An Affront to the Rule of Law

DOJ’s Threatened Reign of Error: Proposed Criminal-Monopolization Prosecutions

The Biden administration’s antitrust reign of error continues apace. The U.S. Justice Department’s (DOJ) Antitrust Division has indicated in recent months that criminal prosecutions may be forthcoming under Section 2 of the Sherman Antitrust Act, but refuses to provide any guidance regarding enforcement criteria. Earlier this month, Deputy Assistant Attorney General Richard Powers stated that ... DOJ’s Threatened Reign of Error: Proposed Criminal-Monopolization Prosecutions

Khan & Slaughter Make ITC Filing Supporting Policies that Would Undermine SEPs and US Innovation

Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Chair Lina Khan recently joined with FTC Commissioner Rebecca Slaughter to file a “written submission on the public interest” in the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) Section 337 proceeding concerning imports of certain cellular-telecommunications equipment covered by standard essential patents (SEPs). SEPs are patents that “read on” technology adopted for inclusion ... Khan & Slaughter Make ITC Filing Supporting Policies that Would Undermine SEPs and US Innovation

Chair Khan’s Latest Flawed Perspective on Mergers Ignores Empirics and Sound Economics

Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Chair Lina Khan missed the mark once again in her May 6 speech on merger policy, delivered at the annual meeting of the International Competition Network (ICN). At a time when the FTC and U.S. Justice Department (DOJ) are presumably evaluating responses to the agencies’ “request for information” on possible merger-guideline ... Chair Khan’s Latest Flawed Perspective on Mergers Ignores Empirics and Sound Economics

Labor Antitrust Analysis Should Focus on Actual Anticompetitive Agreements

Biden administration enforcers at the U.S. Justice Department (DOJ) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) have prioritized labor-market monopsony issues for antitrust scrutiny (see, for example, here and here). This heightened interest comes in light of claims that labor markets are highly concentrated and are rife with largely neglected competitive problems that depress workers’ income. ... Labor Antitrust Analysis Should Focus on Actual Anticompetitive Agreements

Concentration Study Further Undermines Narrative that US Competition Has Sharply Declined

A new scholarly study of economic concentration sheds further light on the flawed nature of the Neo-Brandeisian claim that the United States has a serious “competition problem” due to decades of increasing concentration and ineffective antitrust enforcement (see here and here, for example). In a recent article, economist Yueran Ma—assistant professor at the University of ... Concentration Study Further Undermines Narrative that US Competition Has Sharply Declined

Lina Khan’s Privacy Proposals Are at Odds with Market Principles and Consumer Welfare

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is at it again, threatening new sorts of regulatory interventions in the legitimate welfare-enhancing activities of businesses—this time in the realm of data collection by firms. Discussion In an April 11 speech at the International Association of Privacy Professionals’ Global Privacy Summit, FTC Chair Lina Khan set forth a litany ... Lina Khan’s Privacy Proposals Are at Odds with Market Principles and Consumer Welfare

FTC UMC Rulemakings Would Prove Legal Failures

Federal Trade Commission (FTC) competition rulemakings, like spring, are in the air. But do they make policy or legal sense? In two commentaries last summer (see here and here), I argued that FTC competition rulemaking initiatives would not pass cost-benefit muster, on both legal grounds and economic policy grounds. As a legal matter, I stressed ... FTC UMC Rulemakings Would Prove Legal Failures

Suggested Redline Edits to the DOJ’s Letter to Judiciary Committee Leadership

The Biden administration finally has taken a public position on parallel House (H.R. 3816) and Senate (S. 2992) bills that would impose new welfare-reducing regulatory constraints on the ability of large digital platforms to engage in innovative business practices that benefit consumers and the economy. The administration’s articulation of its position—set forth in a March ... Suggested Redline Edits to the DOJ’s Letter to Judiciary Committee Leadership

Toward a Dynamic Consumer Welfare Standard for Contemporary U.S. Antitrust Enforcement

For decades, consumer-welfare enhancement appeared to be a key enforcement goal of competition policy (antitrust, in the U.S. usage) in most jurisdictions: The U.S. Supreme Court famously proclaimed American antitrust law to be a “consumer welfare prescription” in Reiter v. Sonotone Corp. (1979). A study by the current adviser to the European Competition Commission’s chief ... Toward a Dynamic Consumer Welfare Standard for Contemporary U.S. Antitrust Enforcement