USA Tipline

No lawyers nor economists need apply: The Tipline for 9 August 2019

GCR USA - 09 August 2019

Most of the non-administrative staff at the Federal Trade Commission are lawyers or economists. Our latest statistics in Rating Enforcement – coming soon in print and online! – state that nearly 71% of such staff are lawyers, and another 16% are economists. But soon to join that remaining 13% is a technology fellow for the tech task force, who is specifically not supposed to be a lawyer nor an economist, but rather “an experienced software, process, or privacy engineer, product manager, executive or academic computer scientist”. With the exception of Neil Chilson, who became a lawyer after earning a master’s in computer science, most holders of the old “chief technologist” role were academic computer scientists.

Yes or no: The Tipline for 8 August 2019

GCR USA - 08 August 2019

Congressman David Cicciline, the head of the House of Representatives antitrust subcommittee, was not pleased with the responsiveness of representatives from Amazon, Facebook and Google during a hearing last month. He sent letters to the companies asking them to supplement their testimony largely with answer boxes limited to yes or no answers. We now have those replies, and believe it or not, they expanded beyond a one-word answer.

Antitrust is burning: The Tipline for 7 August 2019

GCR USA - 07 August 2019

Former Federal Trade Commission commissioner James Nicholson spoke before the 91st annual meeting of the American Bar Association 51 years ago today. “Surely these are not sleepy times in antitrust,” he said, perhaps describing an era of enforcement with some parallels. He noted news reports that detailed a “runaway boom in mergers” and referred to the FTC as “more aggressive” than the “more cautious” Department of Justice. One noticeable difference is the level of public engagement Nicholson saw – “antitrust is not a burning public issue,” he said.

The one that got away?: The Tipline for 6 August 2019

GCR USA - 06 August 2019

The Federal Trade Commission might not be doing as many merger retrospectives as commissioner Rebecca Kelly Slaughter would like, but reports suggest the agency is taking a closer look at some Facebook mergers it approved in the past. If you’ve ever been to an antitrust conference, there is a solid chance you heard a panellist question the social network’s acquisitions of Instagram and Whatsapp as an attempt to snare rising foes. We may never see the end result of the commission’s review – outside of a lawsuit or a Freedom of Information Act filing error – but the second look reminds businesses that there are technically no finish lines in the world of merger control.

Merger decomposition: The Tipline for 5 August 2019

GCR USA - 05 August 2019

The Federal Trade Commission’s antitrust investigation into Facebook is grabbing headlines worldwide, but the enforcer’s gaze still extends beyond the markets that allow competition specialists to humble brag about themselves to former high school classmates. The agency filed a lawsuit in its internal tribunal on Friday aimed at blocking the merger of two hydrogen peroxide manufacturers. While it’s unlikely to be the example you'll use to explain antitrust to someone at social gatherings, you can count on GCR USA to cover this chemical merger with molecular-level detail.

Crazy train: The Tipline for 2 August 2019

GCR USA - 02 August 2019

The magistrate judge overseeing the T-Mobile/Sprint trial described the pace of the litigation as a speeding freight train with court documents spewing out its windows. That, coupled with the fact the merging parties’ settlement with the Department of Justice’s antitrust division took longer to complete than advertised, led the judge to push back the start of the trial at least two more months during a scheduling conference on Thursday. The coalition of states suing to block the deal also stopped to add an additional car yesterday. The plaintiffs announced that Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton – the lone Republican in the group – had latched onto the lawsuit.

Primary season: The Tipline for 1 August 2019

GCR USA - 01 August 2019

Somehow, none of the 10 Democrats on stage for the presidential debate last night mentioned the viability of the structural remedies in the Department of Justice’s settlement resolving T-Mobile/Sprint. The candidates also entirely ignored the settlement the agency announced involving Nexstar/Tribune yesterday and the fact that three groups of purchasers of packaged seafood products had been granted class certification by a federal district court. Luckily for you, we’ve got you covered on the stories these candidates didn’t find worth talking about. And, who do we talk to about GCR USA hosting one of these things?

Tribunal turbulence: The Tipline for 31 July 2019

GCR USA - 31 July 2019

The Federal Trade Commission’s proceedings in its internal tribunal have taken some less traditional paths of late. The agency’s challenge against Tronox/Cristal was litigated both before its administrative law judge and the US District Court for the District of Columbia. Its challenge to Ottobock/Freedom Initiatives came after the prosthetics manufacturers had consummated their merger. On Monday, its lawsuit against the Louisiana Real Estate Appraisers Board was stayed for a fourth time.

The war on branded drugs: The Tipline for 30 July 2019

GCR USA - 30 July 2019

The waves of Actavis are still churning and they reached the shores of The Golden State yesterday. The state of California settled its pay-for-delay claims related to narcolepsy drug Provigil against Teva Pharmaceuticals. California attorney general Xavier Beccera said the resolution was the largest state-secured settlement related to reverse payments and the first to include injunctive relief barring similar agreements. Celgene, Mylan Laboratories and Sun Pharmaceuticals all settled claims they had illegally denied generic entry of branded medications on Friday. Speaking of Mylan, Pfizer announced plans to merge its generic drugs business with Mylan yesterday.

Magic numbers: The Tipline for 29 July 2019

GCR USA - 29 July 2019

Antitrust enforcers are usually tight-lipped about mergers in the process of being reviewed. The head of the Department of Justice’s antitrust division, Makan Delrahim, offered few hints about the agency’s view of the T-Mobile/Sprint merger over the past year. However, he did say the DOJ had no predetermined “magic number” of national wireless carriers that were needed to keep the market competitive. On Friday, the Antitrust Division said a fourth competitor was ultimately necessary, and its settlement with the merging companies attempts to set up Dish Network as Sprint’s replacement. But not everyone is convinced that Dish will succeed.