FTC Expected To Clarify Its Power To Police Unfair Competition

From time to time, the Federal Trade Commission is known to take on companies it believes create an environment of unfair competition. Over the years, some have seen the agency’s actions to be a bit arbitrary and wide-ranging. But that could soon change as officials are expected to unveil a policy statement this week specifying how it pursues antitrust cases.

Reuters reports that FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez is expected to unveil the agency’s first attempt to clarify part of a law that gave the division the power to pursue businesses for “unfair methods of competition.”

The clarification of Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act would likely help to quell debate on what conduct is prohibited and how companies can know the FTC’s enforcement policies.

Legislators have often called for more details on what constitutes unfair competition under the FTC clause.

The FTC currently uses the provision of the Act to pursue conduct not covered by other federal antitrust laws. In the past, Reuters reports, the agency used Section 5 in legal settlements with Intel Corp and Google. In both of those cases, the companies agreed to change business practices to resolve allegations of unfair competition.

Antitrust experts have expressed concern in recent years that the FTC hadn’t been using the clause to its full extent.

“It’s going to force the FTC to be a bit more deliberate in what sort of enforcement actions it’s going to bring,” an antitrust lawyer tells Reuters of the new policy.

U.S. FTC expected to unveil policy on unfair competition enforcement [Reuters]

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