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September 18, 2014

Canada’s Competition Bureau (the “Bureau”) has been working over the past year or two to update its competition law compliance guidelines and policies. Competition law compliance has also figured prominently in recent remarks by Canada’s new Commissioner of Competition, John Pecman (including his competition compliance related remarks delivered earlier today – see: here).

As part of this initiative, earlier today the Bureau issued a revised draft Corporate Compliance Programs Bulletin for public comment (see: here and here).  In releasing the new draft Bulletin the Bureau said:

“In a speech at the Canadian Bar Association’s Annual Competition Law Fall Conference in Ottawa, Commissioner Pecman presented the draft Bulletin as a key part of the Bureau’s ongoing efforts to support healthy competition in Canada by promoting compliance. Compliance with the law ensures competitive markets, spurring innovation and economic activity that benefits businesses and delivers lower prices and more choice to consumers. The Commissioner emphasized that the best way for companies to reduce their risk of involvement in anti-competitive activities is to put in place a credible and effective corporate compliance program.”

At sixty-six pages, it would be an understatement to say that the Bureau’s new approach to compliance is a significant expansion from its prior Bulletin.

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September 11, 2014

Well summer is certainly over. The weather is distinctly cooler and “fall-like” and in the competition/antitrust law world the number of cases and antitrust agency activity is increasing again.  In this respect, one interesting case that caught my eye earlier today was a German trade association case in which the German antitrust agency (the Bundeskartellamt) announced that it has imposed 6.2 million euros in further fines for alleged price-fixing by members of a concrete paving stone association and association executive (see: Bundeskartellamt imposes further fines on manufacturers of concrete paving stones on account of price-fixing agreements).

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September 10, 2014

An interesting new Cardus report released yesterday (authored by Stephen W. Bauld and Brian Dijkema), entitled Hiding in Plain Sight: Evaluating Closed Tendering in Construction Markets, argues against closed tendering in public construction procurement. The report also includes discussions of recent Charbonneau Commission developments, construction unions and purported arguments for closed tendering in public procurement (such as for “safety” or “qualification” reasons). One of the central conclusions of the report is that local rules that limit competitive tendering are diametrically opposed to the key principles of public procurement: openness, fairness and transparency. Well worth a read (abstract below with a link to the complete report).

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September 8, 2014

In an interesting case that caught my eye earlier today, the U.S. FTC announced a proposed settlement with Texas-based Applied Food Sciences Inc. (AFS) in relation to allegedly “baseless” green coffee extract weight loss claims.  According to the FTC, AFS, which sells a green coffee ingredient used in foods and dietary supplements, made public claims (including following publicity on the Dr. Oz Show) that subjects lost weight “without diet or exercise” using their product. These claims were based on an Indian clinical trial which, in the FTC’s view, was a “botched study” that didn’t prove anything.

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August 29, 2014

Earlier today, Canada’s Competition Bureau announced that it has launched a new Quarterly Report as part of its ongoing “Transparency Initiative” (i.e., to increase its communication to Canadians regarding the work the Bureau does). According to the Bureau, its new Quarterly Report “presents statistics relating to a variety of intake measures, merger and non-merger enforcement matters, as well as advocacy, outreach and partnership initiatives”.  I discuss a few key points below that caught my eye.

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August 29, 2014

WHAT ARE TRADEMARKS?

A mark (words, names, symbols, devices, sounds, smells, trade dress) used to distinguish the goods and services of one business from similar goods and services of all other businesses.

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August 28, 2014

WHAT IS PROTECTED BY COPYRIGHT?

Original literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works. That is, an original expression (of an idea) fixed in some (usually, tangible) form: fixed or unfixed performances of a work by a performer; sound recordings, including sound recordings of a performance; broadcasts (communication signals).

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August 24, 2014

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has proposed settlements in two cases involving professional associations and codes of ethics that the FTC alleged violated U.S. antitrust laws (the FTC Act) (see: here).  In these two cases, involving the National Association of Residential Property Managers (NARPM) and National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS), the associations agreed to remove provisions in their codes of ethics that, according to the FTC, limited competition among members and raised antitrust law concerns.

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August 23, 2014

I paid a visit to my lawyer earlier today.  Nothing serious – I needed some assistance with an estate I’m involved with.  Yes, even lawyers sometimes need lawyers.  In any event, I’m a competition lawyer as I’m sure you know. I practice in this area because I find it very interesting, even after 12 years in practice, and because I think it’s important – i.e., that markets operate competitively, companies compete fairly and that consumers, companies and economies benefit from competitive and efficient markets.

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