The FTC finalized orders requiring two manufacturers to drop noncompete restrictions that they imposed on workers. It also hosted an Asia-Pacific Cooperation Workshop on competition advocacy. These stories and more after the jump.
February 21, 2023
Bureau of Consumer Protection: Health Care, Optometry
- The FTC sent 24 cease and desist letters to eye care prescribers after receiving complaints claiming that the prescribers failed to comply with the Contact Lens Rule and/or the Ophthalmic Practice Rules (also known as the Eyeglass Rule). These rules ensure consumers have the right to comparison shop for prescription lenses. The complaints allege that the prescribers were in violation of the Contact Lens Rule by failing to provide the name of the manufacturer and trade name of the private label brand when prescribing private label lenses and improperly responding to third-party seller requests to verify contact lens prescription information by providing general denials. These letters reminded prescribers of their obligations under both rules (where applicable) and warned that noncompliance would result in civil penalties of up to $50,120 per violation. The FTC is not making the names of the prescribers receiving letters public at this time.
Bureau of Competition: Office of International Affairs
- The FTC and the Justice Department launched a two-day joint workshop focusing on competition advocacy as part of this year’s first Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation’s (APEC) Senior Officials Meeting. The workshop was organized to build on the APEC’s 2023 priorities, including promoting competitive markets throughout the Asia-Pacific region and fostering cooperation across APEC’s 21 economies in service of this goal. The workshop features presentations and roundtable discussions on litigating competition matters, regulatory advocacy and effective legislative advocacy in a changing world. This year marks the first time that the United States has hosted APEC since 2011. Commissioner Slaughter highlighted the importance of the workshop, stating “The participants in this conference represent a broad and diverse spectrum of perspectives on our common goal – to cooperatively build the capacity of our economies to foster a free, open and fair trade and investment environment.”
February 23, 2023
Bureau of Consumer Protection: Fraud
- The FTC has released new data showing that consumers reported losing nearly $8.8 billion to fraud in 2022, an increase in more than 30 percent over 2021. Over 2.4 million consumers filed fraud reports last year, with the most commonly reported fraud being imposter scams followed by online shopping scams. The FTC’s Consumer Sentinel Network is a database that receives reports directly from consumers, as well as from federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies, the Better Business Bureau, industry members, and non-profit organizations. The FTC uses the reports it receives through the Sentinel network as the starting point for many of its law enforcement investigations, and the agency also shares these reports with approximately 2,800 federal, state, local and international law enforcement professionals. These reports are a vital part of the agency’s law enforcement mission. A full breakdown of reports received in 2022 is now available on the FTC’s data analysis website.
Bureau of Competition: Nonmerger, Unfair Methods of Competition
- The FTC finalized consent orders against two glass container manufacturers, O-I Glass, Inc. and Ardagh Group S.A., settling charges that they violated the provisions of Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act by unfairly using post-employment covenants not to compete. The order includes 1) a requirement of notice to employees who previously were a party to a noncompete agreement; 2) posting of a clear and conspicuous notice that each new employee will not be subject to a noncompete agreement; 3) voiding and nullifying any existing noncompete agreements; 4) notice to directors, officers, and employees with responsibility for hiring or recruitment of employees in the United States; 5) a requirement that those who receive notice of the noncompete agreement as a director, officer, or employee sign and submit a statement; 6) respondents must file verified written reports; 7) respondents must notify the Commission before the dissolution, acquisition, merger, or consolidation of the company, and; 8) the Commission will have access to inspect and copy all documents in order to determine or secure compliance with the order. The Commission voted 3-1 to finalize each final order, with Commissioner Christine S. Wilson dissenting.