Federal Register Notice
Federal Trade Commission
Notice of Public Hearing and Opportunity for Comment
The Federal Trade Commission ("FTC" or "Commission") announces that it will hold hearings this fall on whether there have been broad-based changes in the contemporary competitive environment that require any adjustments in antitrust and consumer protection enforcement in order to keep pace with those changes. The core provisions of antitrust and consumer protection law serve as effective tools against the exercise of unrestrained private economic power and the deception and abuse of consumers. Enforcement that results in vigorous competition in domestic markets also best facilitates international competitiveness and advancements in innovation-driven industries. However, in order to help ensure that antitrust and consumer protection law will continue to protect the operation of the free market and unimpeded consumer choice, the FTC will examine whether adaptations in the enforcement of those laws are warranted in light of changes in the nature of global and innovation-based competition.
The Commission anticipates the hearings to address whether any accommodations in the law or enforcement policy are warranted in the following areas in light of any developments in global competition and innovation: (1) the measurement of market power; (2) the ability of firms to enter new markets; (3) treatment of efficiencies in merger and nonmerger areas; (4) treatment of efficiencies in innovation, particularly those resulting from collaboration; (5) failing firms or distressed industries; (6) the impact of antitrust and consumer protection law on small businesses; (7) the relationship of antitrust to intellectual property law; (8) foreclosure, access and efficiency issues related to networks and standards; (9) strategic conduct in the context of innovation-based competition; (10) cross-border consumer protection issues (such as standard setting, product labelling harmonization, and/or technology-related scams); and (11) agency institutional processes (such as quality of evidence and burden of proof; safe harbors; evidence gathering). The hearings will be transcribed and placed on the public record. Any comments received also will be put in the public record. The hearings may cover additional, related topics if the Commission determines it would be advisable to do so.
The hearings will begin in early October, 1995. Specific dates will be provided in a later notice and in press releases. When in session, the hearings will be held at the FTC headquarters, Sixth Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. The hearings will conclude by the end of the year. All interested parties are welcome to attend. Requests to participate in the hearings should be submitted before August 31, 1995, or earlier if at all possible. Any interested person may submit written comments responsive to any of the topics to be addressed; such comments should be submitted before the end of the hearings.
To facilitate efficient review of public comments, all comments should be submitted, if possible, in electronic and written form. Electronic submissions should be on either a 5 and1/4 or 3 and1/2 inch computer disk, with a label on the disk stating the name of the commenter and the name and version of the word processing program used to create the document. (Programs based on DOS are acceptable. Files from other operating systems should be submitted in ASCII text format.) Submissions should be captioned "Comments on Hearings on Global Competition and Innovation" and addressed to Donald S. Clark, Office of the Secretary, Federal Trade Commission, Sixth Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580. Notice of interest in participating in the hearings also should be addressed in writing to the Office of the Secretary at the above address.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:
Susan DeSanti or Debra A. Valentine, Policy Planning, Federal Trade Commission, Sixth Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Room 503, Washington, D.C. 20580; or by telephone (202) 326-2167 or (202) 326-2390. Electronic Mail Address: susan.desanti @ftc.gov, or debra.valentine @ftc.gov. A detailed agenda for the hearings will be available on the FTC Home Page (http://www.ftc.gov), through various publications, and through Sula Miller at (202) 326-3190.
The Commission is examining its role in enforcing consumer protection and antitrust laws in light of the above issues. The Commission expects that the hearings will provide the information necessary to determine what, if any, adjustments may be desirable. After the hearings, the Commission intends to issue a report, which may indicate changes it intends to adopt or recommend, areas for further study, or coordinated action with the Department of Justice. The Commission has general authority under the FTC Act to interpret its substantive laws through guidelines, advisory opinions, and policy statements