Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Consumer Protection: Advertising and Telemarketing

  • The FTC finalized a settlement with New York-Based Lifewatch, Inc, an ambulatory cardiac monitoring service, which will result in paying back more than $1.8 million to consumers, including many older Americans. The FTC’s complaint, filed jointly with the Florida Attorney General’s Office, alleged that the defendants bombarded consumers with at least a billion unsolicited robocalls to pitch supposedly “free” medical alert systems. These pre-recorded messages claimed that Lifewatch’s medical alert system was endorsed or recommended by reputable organizations like the American Heart Association. The company’s telemarketers often told consumers that a medical alert system had been purchased for them, and they could receive it “at no cost whatsoever.” Consumers eventually learned that they were responsible for monthly monitoring fees and that it was difficult to cancel without paying a penalty. The defendants are also banned from telemarketing and misrepresenting the terms associated with the sale of any product or service.

Thursday, December 2, 2021

Bureau of Competition: Technology

  • The FTC sued to block U.S. chip supplier Nvidia Corp.’s $40 billion acquisition of U.K. chip design provider Arm Ltd. The FTC’s complaint alleges that this vertical merger would give Nvidia the ability and incentive to stifle the innovative next-generation technologies of its chip rivals and charge these rivals higher prices. The FTC alleges that the transaction would harm Nvidia rivals whose chips are used to power datacenter servers and chips used in advanced driver-assistance systems in cars. The administration trial is scheduled to start in August 2022.

Friday, December 3, 2021

Bureau of Competition: International Best Practices

  • FTC and DOJ leaders attended meetings in London during the week of November 29 as part of the Competition Enforcers Summit, which took place under the 2021 G7 Digital and Technology Track in connection with the UK’s G7 presidency. The FTC, the Antitrust Division of the DOJ, and the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority issued a joint statement that expressed a desire to strengthen collaboration and coordination with one another in order to address new and evolving challenges. The full statement can be found here.

Bureau of Competition: Merchandise and Clothing

  • FTC Bureau of Competition Director, Holly Vedova, issued a statement in response to a report that Great Outdoors Group, LLC and Sportsman’s Warehouse Holdings, Inc. have abandoned their $785 million proposed merger in the face of FTC opposition. According to the statement, the proposed merger would have combined two closely competing retailers in the outdoor recreational products market. The abandonment of the deal follows an 11-month investigation by the FTC staff in partnership with the Attorney General offices of Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Alaska, Colorado, Iowa, and California. In the statement, Bureau Director Vedova states, “Under its Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s banners, Great Outdoors competes closely with Sportsman’s Warehouse to offer customers a broad and deep in-store assortment of outdoor gear, alongside expert sales staff, creating a one-stop shopping experience for outdoor enthusiasts. This competition has benefited customers in at least two dozen local markets throughout the United States. I am pleased that Great Outdoors and Sportsman’s Warehouse decided to abandon their proposed merger, which would have harmed consumers through increased prices, reduced product offerings, and diminished quality and service.” In July 2017, the FTC closed its investigation and took no action on the Bass Pro-Cabela’s combination that resulted in the formation of Great Outdoors Group.