Search The Site

Archive for the ‘Antitrust Division’ Category

Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission Officials Meet with Chinese Antitrust Agencies Officials at Second Annual High-Level Meetings
January 10, 2014 Posted by

Justice Department Assistant Attorney General Bill Baer participated in high-level meetings with Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Chairwoman Edith Ramirez and officials from China’s three antitrust agencies – Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) Vice Minister Jiang Zengwei, National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) Vice Minister Hu Zucai and State Administration for Industry and Commerce (SAIC) Vice Minister Sun Hongzhi.

The meetings took place at MOFCOM in Beijing, China, on Jan. 9, 2014. This was the second high-level meeting of the agencies since the Justice Department and FTC signed the antitrust memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Chinese antitrust agencies on July 27, 2011. The officials discussed promoting competition in a global economy and various aspects of general civil and criminal antitrust enforcement.

The MOU is designed to promote communication and cooperation among the agencies in the two countries. The MOU provides for periodic high-level consultations among all five agencies.

 DOJ_FTC_China1

 

Chinese National Development and Reform Commission Vice Minister Hu Zucai, Assistant Attorney General for the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division Bill Baer, Ministry of Commerce Vice Minister Jiang Zengwei, Federal Trade Commission Chairwoman Edith Ramirez, and State Administration for Industry and Commerce Vice Minister Sun Hongzhi

 DOJ_FTC_China2 

 Department of Justice and FTC Officials participated in high-level meetings with China’s three antitrust agencies – MOFCOM, NRDC and SAIC

 

 

POSTED IN: Antitrust Division  |  PERMALINK
Standard Setting and Competition
November 8, 2012 Posted by

In remarks presented today at a meeting of the Intellectual Property Rights Patent Committee of the American National Standards Institute in Washington, D.C., Deputy Assistant Attorney General Renata Hesse of the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division said:

“Standards are an important engine driving our modern economy and the Antitrust Division is working to promote the adoption of procompetitive patent policies by organizations that set standards (SSOs).”

These policies often include a commitment to license patents essential to a standard on RAND (reasonable and non-discriminatory) or FRAND (fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory) terms.  F/RAND commitments however, are often ambiguous.  The Antitrust Division has proposed several ways in which SSOs could revise their patent policies to make them less ambiguous, changes which would promote competition.

The proposals range from placing some limitations on the right of the patent holder who has made a F/RAND commitment to seek an injunction to making improvements to lower the transactions cost of determining F/RAND licensing terms.  See Six “Small” Proposals for SSOs before Lunch (Oct. 2012) (PDF) for more information.

Reaction to the division’s proposals has been positive.  The division is aware that it takes time for many SSOs and their members to change intellectual property policies, particularly those that are governed by a consensus process.   Some participating in the standard-setting process have been concerned that discussing changes to SSO policies regarding the meaning of a F/RAND commitment could violate antitrust laws.

In her remarks, Hesse provided guidance on how SSOs and their members may avoid antitrust liability when discussing intellectual property policies designed to reduce the threat of hold up after a standard is set. Merely discussing a proposed rule change, she said, would not violate U.S. antitrust laws.  Moreover, the division evaluates SSO rules designed to mitigate hold up after a standard is set under the rule of reason, taking into account both the procompetitive efficiencies such rules engender as well as any harms to competition.  Hesse said that the division would condemn sham SSO rules and sham implementation of SSO rules as per se naked restraints of trade.

POSTED IN: Antitrust Division  |  PERMALINK
Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission Officials Meet with Chinese Antitrust Agencies Officials
September 25, 2012 Posted by

The following post appears courtesy of the Antitrust Division 

First Meetings after Signing of Antitrust Memorandum of Understanding

Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole met with the Chinese National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) Vice Chairman Hu Zucai on Monday, September 24, 2012.

Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole met with the Chinese National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) Vice Chairman Hu Zucai on Monday, September 24, 2012.

 Justice Department Acting Assistant Attorney General Joseph Wayland participated in high-level meetings with Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Chairman Jon Leibowitz and officials from China’s three antitrust agencies – Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) Vice Minister Gao Hucheng, National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) Vice Chairman Hu Zucai and State Administration for Industry and Commerce (SAIC) Vice Minister Teng Jiacai.  

Today’s meeting was the first joint dialogue between the U.S. Antitrust Agencies and the Chinese Antimonopoly Agencies since the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the five agencies on July 27, 2011.

Today’s meeting was the first joint dialogue between the U.S. Antitrust Agencies and the Chinese Antimonopoly Agencies since the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the five agencies on July 27, 2011.

The meetings took place at the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., over two days.  Justice Department Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole met with NDRC Vice Chairman Hu yesterday.

These were the first high-level meetings of the agencies since the Justice Department and FTC signed the antitrust Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Chinese antitrust agencies on July 27, 2011.  The officials discussed promoting competition in a global economy and various aspects of general civil and criminal antitrust enforcement.

Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Antitrust Division Joseph Wayland and FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz with Chinese Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) Vice Minister Gao Hucheng and State Administration for Industry and Commerce (SAIC) Vice Minister Teng Jiacai

Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Antitrust Division Joseph Wayland and FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz with Chinese Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) Vice Minister Gao Hucheng and State Administration for Industry and Commerce (SAIC) Vice Minister Teng Jiacai

The MOU is designed to promote communication and cooperation among the agencies in the two countries.  The MOU provides for periodic high-level consultations among all five agencies.

 

 

POSTED IN: Antitrust Division  |  PERMALINK
Competition, Innovation and Intellectual Property
April 26, 2012 Posted by

The following post appears courtesy of the Antitrust Division.

Today the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division is recognizing the 12th annual World Intellectual Property Day. The Antitrust Division recognizes the vital role innovation and intellectual property play in our economy. Innovation drives economic growth, creates jobs, and enhances American competitiveness in a global economy. Innovation benefits American consumers because it leads to new and enhanced products and services.

The successful promotion of innovation and creativity requires a both competitive markets and strong intellectual property rights. To reward those that make investments and take risks to innovate, strong intellectual property rights protect their inventions and ideas from unauthorized infringement. Antitrust enforcement, however, remains critical to ensure that intellectual property rights are not abused to limit competition. Competitive pressures force companies to continue innovating and creating additional intellectual property.

During a speech earlier this week at the Brookings Institution, Acting Assistant Attorney General Sharis A. Pozen spoke about a recent set of patent acquisitions that highlight the important intersection between intellectual property rights and competition law:

“These issues were central to our investigations of Google’s acquisition of Motorola Mobility; Apple’s, Microsoft’s and Research in Motion’s acquisition of certain Nortel Network patents; and the acquisition by Apple of certain Novell patents. In each of these investigations, the division took a hard look at the potential ability and incentives of the acquiring companies to use the patents they were seeking to illegally foreclose competition.

We especially were concerned about certain ‘standard essential patents’ (SEPs) that Motorola and Nortel had pledged to license to industry participants as part of their participation in standard setting organizations. We analyzed whether the purchasing companies could use these SEPs to raise rivals’ costs or otherwise foreclose competition. During our investigation, a number of the companies involved—including Apple, Google and Microsoft—made commitments regarding their proposed SEP licensing policies.

The division ultimately concluded that none of the transactions was likely to substantially lessen competition in any relevant market and it announced its closure of these investigations in February 2012.”

Our efforts to protect competition and ensure innovators obtain intellectual property protections are ongoing. We continue to review mergers and monitor the use of intellectual property rights in industries that effect consumers to ensure that the right balance is achieved between competition law and intellectual property law.

POSTED IN: Antitrust Division  |  PERMALINK
European Commission Vice President Joaquín Almunia Delivers 2012 Lewis Bernstein Memorial Lecture
March 30, 2012 Posted by

 The following post appears courtesy of the Antitrust Division.

Vice President Joaquín Almunia of the European Commission speaks as Acting Assistant Attorney General Sharis A. Pozen, former Assistant Attorney General John H. Shenefield and Federal Trade Commission Commissioner Edith Ramirez look on
Vice President Joaquín Almunia of the European Commission speaks as Acting Assistant Attorney General Sharis A. Pozen, former Assistant Attorney General John H. Shenefield and Federal Trade Commission Commissioner Edith Ramirez look on

This afternoon, the Antitrust Division hosted the Lewis Bernstein Memorial Lecture with Vice President Joaquín Almunia of the European Commission (EC) as the featured speaker. Vice President Almunia’s speech focused on competition policy in the post-crisis era. Acting Assistant Attorney General Sharis A. Pozen, Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Commissioner Edith Ramirez and former Assistant Attorney General John H. Shenefield also joined the lecture.

Introducing Vice President Almunia, Acting Assistant Attorney General Pozen said:

“Under Vice President Almunia’s leadership there can be little question that the European Commission is vigorously enforcing its competition laws. Vice President Almunia has emphasized the importance of strong competition policy as a tool for economic growth.” 

Vice President Almunia has served as the Commissioner for Competition of the European Commission since 2010. Previously, he served as Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs. The division and the commission have fostered a decades-long working relationship with respect to competition issues in order to enhance coordination and cooperation on antitrust law enforcement and policy.  

In October 2011, the division, the FTC and the European Commission celebrated the 20th anniversary of the U.S.-EC bilateral antitrust agreement and issued an updated set of best practices (PDF) that they use to coordinate their merger reviews. Acting Assistant Attorney General Pozen, FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz and Vice President and Competition Commissioner Almunia praised the success of the cooperation agreement and noted that international coordination and cooperation have steadily increased over 20 years.

European Commission Vice President Joaquín Almunia speaks at the Lewis Bernstein Memorial Lecture
European Commission Vice President Joaquín Almunia speaks at the Lewis Bernstein Memorial Lecture 

The Lewis Bernstein Memorial Lecture was established in 1995 in honor of Lewis Bernstein’s career and memory as a devoted public servant. Following his service in World War II, Bernstein joined the Antitrust Division as a trial attorney. Five years later, he became chief of the Special Litigation Section, the position he held until his retirement in 1977. He took part in the division’s cases against Pfizer (Tetracycline), Jones and Laughlin Steel, Container Corporation of America, Schine Theaters, Penn-Olin Chemical, College of American Pathologists, National Malleable Steel Casings, Buffalo Press and IBM (1969), among others.

Past speakers of the lecture include former Assistant Attorneys General Thomas E. Kauper, Joel Klein and Shenefield, former FTC Chairman Robert Pitofsky, former FTC Commissioner William E. Kovacic, former FTC General Counsel Stephen Calkins, former EC Commissioner for Competition Mario Monti, former U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois Thomas P. Sullivan, Judge Sarah S. Vance of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana and New York University School of Law Professor Eleanor Fox.

POSTED IN: Antitrust Division  |  PERMALINK
Cheers to Competition: 120 Years of the Sherman Act
April 20, 2010 Posted by

The following post appears courtesy of the Antitrust Division.

U.S. history is filled with great achievements that deserve celebration. The enactment of the Sherman Antitrust Act in 1890 is certainly one of them.

Most of us learned about, or at least heard of, the Sherman Act at some point in our lives (most likely in our fifth grade U.S. history class). And, we know it had something to do with the breaking up of Standard Oil Company.

But then, what? How is this 120-year-old law relevant to us in the 21st> century when we rarely hear about “trusts” these days?

Despite its anachronistic name, the Sherman Antitrust Act touches every aspect of a modern consumer’s life. The Act is, at its core, the law to protect competition and thereby enhance consumer welfare. And, as the U.S. and global markets have grown tremendously since their inception, the Sherman Act is ever more relevant and critical in our daily life. That means when we pay phone bills, buy flat screen TVs or frozen packaged goods, the Sherman Act plays a role in preventing companies from illegally monopolizing and colluding and artificially setting prices.

As an enforcer of the Act, the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice protects competition by preventing the artificial raising of prices through the merging of competing entities, price-fixing, or bid-rigging, and prohibiting a company from using its market dominance to stifle competition.

For example, the division brought a landmark case against Microsoft involving computer operating systems and recently investigated a real estate executive for conspiring to rig bids at public real estate foreclosure auctions. The rigorous enforcement of the Sherman Act deters companies from engaging in anticompetitive behavior.

As a result, companies have to compete to provide better products and services in order to attract more business, which gives consumers more and better options.

So, you now see why the Sherman Act was one of America’s greatest achievements. On April 20, in commemorating the 120th Anniversary of the Sherman Act, the Attorney General will present the 2010 John Sherman Award to Professor Robert Pitofsky. The division’s highest honor is given to those who have made outstanding and substantial contributions to the protection of American consumers and the preservation of economic liberty.

POSTED IN: Antitrust Division  |  PERMALINK
 
Search The Blog


Stay Connected YouTube Twitter Facebook Sign Up for E-Mail Updates Subscribe to News Feeds