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Antitrust Law

Whole Foods Lawyer: FTC Wants to ‘Put the Toothpaste Back in the Tube’

Posted Jan 13, 2009 1:20 PM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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The Federal Trade Commission has asked a federal judge to stop further integration of Wild Oats Markets with Whole Foods, but an opposing lawyer says it’s already too late.

The commission asked U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman of Washington, D.C., to order Wild Oats stores that became part of Whole Foods to reclaim their old Wild Oats name, the Wall Street Journal reports (sub. req.). The FTC also said a special trustee should be appointed to manage Wild Oats’ assets as the agency pursues its antitrust challenge to the merger.

The case is back before Friedman after a federal appeals court ruled in July that the judge applied the wrong legal standard when he denied the FTC’s request for an injunction to stop the combination of the two grocers.

Whole Foods lawyer Lanny Davis told the Associated Press that the new FTC request is “absurd.”

''They want us to put the toothpaste back in the tube,'' Davis told the wire service. ''How can you halt something that is already done?''

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