July 22, 2014
In an interesting case that caught my eye yesterday and today, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has proposed a settlement in a case involving allegations that an online bar code re-seller engaged in an “invitation to collude” under Section 5 of the U.S. FTC Act. See: Different methods, same old antitrust problem and Two barcode resellers settle FTC charges that principals invited competitors to collude.
According to the FTC, the principal of InstantUPCCodes.com, a company engaged in the online re-sale of bar codes, allegedly sent a “friendly introduction to two competitors” that also included a friendlier recommendation yet that the competing companies stop competing in price. This cartel-related courtship reportedly went like this:
“Hello Phil, Our company name is InstantUPCCodes .com, as you may be aware, we are one of your competitors within the same direct industry that you are in … Here’s the deal Phil, I’m your friend, not your enemy … Here’s what I’d like to do: All 3 of us, US, YOU and [Company A] need to match the price that [Company B] has …. I’d say that 48 hours would be an acceptable amount of time to get these price changes completed for all 3 of us. The thing is though we all need to agree to do this or it won’t work … Reply and let me know if you are willing to do this or not.”
July 19, 2014
In Canada, the United States and many other open western and eastern economies we fortunately live in free markets. That is to say companies in any sector can enter, devise a new product (or improve on an existing products), compete and reap the free market rewards of doing so – with risk comes reward.
Except, unfortunately, for the fact that national, state/provincial and local governments continually enact legislation, regulations, bylaws and the like setting out who can play, what the requirements are (usually licensing and fee requirements) and penalties for non-compliance.
Needless to say these various state, regional and local regulatory licensing requirements typically impose barriers to entry, raise the costs of competing in a market and keep prices high (or higher) than may be the case absent such “regulation”.
July 13, 2014
In Canada, “competition law” overlaps with advertising and marketing law. One of the reasons for this is because the federal Competition Act in Canada includes a number of advertising and marketing law sections, including some specific provisions relating to promotional contests. (Though of course contests in Canada can involve a number of other areas of law including: contract law, the Criminal Code, privacy law, intellectual property law and now Canada’s recently in force anti-spam law – CASL.)
July 11, 2014
Well summer is here and I have to admit that my blog output has slowed a bit (and likely will through the summer). Nevertheless, on my daily media and competition authorities sweep earlier I read what I thought was a rather interesting note by the Irish Competition Authority on collective action by voluntary trade associations: What’s the story … with the IMO representing their members?.
July 11, 2014
The OECD has posted the papers from its recent (October 2013) discussion of ex officio cartel investigations and the use of screens to detect cartels.
Associations: CSAE Workshop: “Competition Law: Codes of Ethics, Surveys and Recent Developments for Associations”
July 10, 2014
I am pleased to be a guest speaker at the Canadian Society of Association Executives’ (CSAE) National Conference 2014 in Niagara Falls this fall (October 29-31). I will be co-presenting with Mark Katz of Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg, the co-author of our competition law and associations book. Below is an overview of our seminar.
“Your Product Is Great!” (What Was It Again?): Australian Carpet Cleaning Co. Sued for Alleged Fake Reviews, Some Canadian Points
July 2, 2014
Each morning, before I begin ‘real work’, I usually spend a little time on an Internet sweep of interesting advertising and competition law cases that have developed overnight or come into my inbox.
June 29, 2014
After a last minute flurry of inquiries and companies and individuals finalizing preparations to comply, Canada’s new federal anti-spam legislation will at long last (or as dreaded) come into force on July 1st. So, for companies and individuals that market electronically and haven’t prepared by Tuesday, it will be “pens down” so to speak or risk the rather draconian potential penalties under the new law.
June 27, 2014
With Canada’s new anti-spam law (CASL) coming into force right around the corner (next week on July 1st) Canadian and international businesses that market to Canadians are finalizing initial CASL compliance preparations (including a flurry of consent request e-mails – which will not be permitted to request consent post-July 1st, unless they fall within the scope of the transition provision of CASL – i.e., are sent to existing business or non-business contacts as defined).