The FTC continues to make strides at the start of the new year. The FTC and the Justice Department met with world leaders in the competition space and announced numerous updates to their procedures demonstrating the government’s commitment to remaining up to date with current technology and trends. This, and more, after the jump.

Monday, January 22, 2024

Bureau of Competition: Merger; Competition; Hart-Scott-Rodino Act (HSR)

  • Per the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976, the Commission approved revised jurisdictional thresholds and a revised filing fee schedule that will take effect 30 dates after its publication in the Federal Register. Of note, the size-of-transaction threshold for reporting proposed mergers and acquisitions under Section 7A of the Clayton Act will adjust from $111.4 million to $119.5 million for 2024. The updates can be found here

Tuesday, January 23, 2024

Bureau of Consumer Protection: Advertising and Marketing; Deceptive/ Misleading Conduct; Veterans; Made in USA

  • The FTC finalized a consent order against EXOTOUSA LLC (doing business as Old Southern Brass) settling charges that the company made numerous false claims that certain products were “Made in USA,” the company has U.S. military affiliations, and that the company donated a percentage of sales to military service charities. The order imposes a $4,572,137.66 monetary judgment as monetary relief, which is partially suspended based on the defendants’ inability to pay the full amount, and requires the company pay the FTC a total of $150,000. Additionally, the company must stop making false claims, and comply with specific requirements when making future “country-of-origin claims.”

Office of International Affairs; Competition

  • On January 23, 2024, FTC Chair Lina M. Khan and Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Kanter of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division met with competition enforcers from Mexico and Canada to discuss competition in the technology and platform sectors, the impact of competition on labor markets, and new enforcement tools and approaches to competition law. FTC Chair Khan honed in on the importance of this annual trilateral meeting as an opportunity to “share expertise and learning, strengthening our work to promote fair competition and protect the American public from anticompetitive and monopolistic tactics.”

Bureau of Competition: Health Care; Prescription Drugs

  • The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed a 2022 district court ruling that found Martin Shkreli liable for $64.6 million in disgorgement for his role in orchestrating an illegal anticompetitive scheme to prevent generic competition in the market for parasitic infection medicine known as Daraprim, and imposed a lifetime ban on him participating in the pharmaceutical industry. Bureau of Competition Director Henry Liu celebrated the decision, stating “The Second Circuit’s decision is a win for consumers seeking affordable, lifesaving medication and clearly demonstrates that corporate executives will be held personally liable for anticompetitive actions that they help orchestrate.”

Thursday, January 25, 2024

Bureau of Consumer Protection: Funerals; Advertising and Marketing

  • After conducting the FTC’s first undercover phone sweep of more than 250 funeral homes, the Commission sent warning letters to 39 funeral homes who violated the Funeral Rule, which requires funeral homes to give consumers accurate pricing information and other readily available information by telephone upon request. Results of the sweep showed some funeral homes either refused to answer questions about pricing at all or provided inconsistent pricing for identical services, misrepresented the local health code requirements for embalming, or provided Price Lists not aligned with the requirements of the Funeral Rule. The letters sent reiterate the Funeral Rule’s requirements and urges the businesses to take prompt remedial action or risk penalties of up to $51,744 per violation.

Friday, January 26, 2024

Bureau of Competition: Merger; Dual Enforcement/ DOJ

  • The FTC and Justice Department addressed new challenges to document preservation brought on by the rise of new technologies in the modern work place. Due to the rise of collaboration tools and ephemeral messaging applications that allow immediate and irretrievable destruction of data, companies have not always been able to properly retain information created on these technologies during government investigations and litigation, which can lead to civil spoliation sanctions or criminal prosecution through the Bureau of Competition’s Criminal Liaison Unit. In response to these new challenges, both agencies announced they would be updating language in their standard preservation letters and specifications for all second requests, voluntary access letters, and compulsory legal process, including grand jury subpoenas.

Bureau of Consumer Protection: Deceptive/Misleading Conduct; Advertising and Marketing; Manufacturing; Made in USA; Industrial Goods

  • The FTC, in conjunction with the Department of Justice, secured “the largest civil penalty assessed for violating the Made in USA Labeling Rule,” said Samuel Levine, Director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection, against Kubota North America Corporation for falsely labeling replacement tractor parts as being “Made in USA.” Per the stipulated court order, the company will pay a $2 million civil penalty, and the company will be prohibited from making any unqualified and unsupported claims of US-origin. Director Levine warns, “The FTC will continue cracking down on deceptive Made in USA claims that cheat consumers and honest businesses.”