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Antitrust Law

FTC Majority Criticizes DOJ Antitrust Guidelines for Monopolies

Posted Sep 9, 2008 8:02 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Critics are assailing the Justice Department’s new antitrust guidelines for corporate monopolies as being too permissive, and the dissenters include a majority of the Federal Trade Commission.

Three FTC commissioners issued a statement disagreeing with many of the Justice Department’s threshold tests for when it can take action against companies for monopoly tactics, the Washington Post reports. Commissioners Pamela Jones Harbour, Jon Leibowitz and J. Thomas Rosch called the report "a blueprint for radically weakened enforcement" against monopolies that engage in predatory pricing and other anti-consumer behavior.

But Thomas Barnett, assistant attorney general in charge of the department's antitrust division, told the Post that the report relies on commonly accepted legal standards. While monopolistic aggression needs to be policed, the report said, there is also a need "to avoid interfering in the rough and tumble of beneficial competition that drives innovation and economic growth."

The guidelines could be ignored by Barnett’s successor when a new president is elected, Reuters reports.

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