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General Antitrust

A Response to Commissioner Wright’s Proposed Policy Statement Regarding Unfair Methods of Competition

Maurice E. Stucke, CPI Antitrust Chronicle, September 2013.

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Federal Trade Commissioner Joshua Wright recently proposed a new legal standard to evaluate “unfair methods of competition” under Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act, 15 U.S.C. 45(a) (2012).

This essay raises several concerns. First, Wright’s proposed legal standard does not go as far as Congress intended. Moreover it conflates unfair methods of competition with acts and practices that significantly harm consumer welfare. A second concern is that the proposed legal standard goes the other direction and permits conduct that is otherwise illegal under the Sherman and Clayton Acts. Third, the proposed standard reduces accuracy, is hard to administer in connection with the traditional antitrust standards, and increases the risk of inconsistent outcomes for behavior outside the well-forged antitrust case law, but within the Sherman and Clayton Acts’ reach.

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