Antitrust Law Source

What to expect in a post-COVID-19 world

Though at times a return to normalcy may seem far off, it makes sense to contemplate what the legal landscape will look like when the current COVID-19 crisis abates, and what we can do now to protect ourselves as best we can. That’s what we explore in our third and final installment on antitrust and consumer protection in a COVID-19 world. Be sure to read Part 1, “Antitrust law in a COVID-19 world: Do we care? Should we care?” and Part 2, “Price gouging during COVID-19: The flip side of competition law.”

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Price gouging during COVID-19: The flip side of competition law

In our first installment and podcast, we discussed antitrust enforcement in the COVID-19 era. Now, we’d like to discuss price gouging, which in many ways is the polar opposite of antitrust law. Antitrust laws are based, at least partly, on the principle that fair and open competition allows resources to be allocated most efficiently. It further assumes that fair and open competition allows goods and services to be priced efficiently, by the forces of supply and demand. Price gouging laws, on the other hand, seek to limit price increases even when those prices are being determined by fair and open competition and by the forces of supply and demand. While price gouging and other consumer protection laws certainly protect the public from the effects of hoarding and other predatory behavior during public emergencies, they also capture price increases that are a result of sharply increased demand or supply shortages that are not occasioned by any malfeasance.

In the COVID-19 era, governments at all levels have mobilized efforts to combat price gouging. State attorneys general are conducting investigations and filing suits; governors have issued executive orders declaring emergencies and expanding enforcement; the Federal government has invoked the Defense Production Act to handle problems traditionally addressed by price-gouging statutes. Companies must conduct a careful state-by-state analysis to fully appreciate the impact of these laws on their business. Continue Reading

Antitrust law in a COVID-19 world: Do we care? Should we care?

Let’s face it, antitrust concerns probably do not top your list of legal concerns at this time. So, it is fair to ask whether companies should worry much about antitrust right now.

The short answer is, yes. The rules have not changed, and those who do not heed them now may pay dearly later. At the same time, we realize you probably have better things to do than read another alert that recites a long list of antitrust dos and don’ts. So, we will briefly summarize what has happened to date and provide some guidance for these times. This blog is part one in a three-part series dealing with antitrust and price gouging. We will also offer podcasts on these topics.

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Made in the USA? It better be

The Federal Trade Commission remains vigilant about protecting the integrity of “Made in USA” claims. This is evidenced by its recent settlement with Williams-Sonoma Inc. The FTC claimed that that the well-known home products and kitchen wares company deceptively represented that certain of its products were made in the U.S. when, in fact, they were wholly imported, or contained significant imported materials or components. Those products included its Goldtouch Bakeware products, Rejuvenation-branded products, and Pottery Barn Teen and Pottery Barn Kids-branded upholstered furniture products. Williams-Sonoma had claimed that all or virtually all of the products were made in the U.S.

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Podcasts

Episode 42
Antitrust during COVID-19 Part 3: Planning for the future

With any large crisis, litigation follows and that will certainly be the case with the COVID-19 pandemic. In the third and final installment of our podcast series on consumer protection and antitrust concerns during COVID-19, Jay Levine, host and partner at Porter Wright, talks to attorney Allen Carter, about the areas where businesses may be at risk for litigation, what they should be thinking about now to protect themselves and what to expect in the coming months and years.

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iTunes
Episode 41
Antitrust during COVID-19 Part 2: Price gouging and hoarding of supplies

If you’ve been to the store lately, you know there are a few things that are hard to find and others are increasing in price. But when does stocking up turn into hoarding or demand driving up prices turn into price gouging? In the second of a three-part series on consumer protection and antitrust concerns during COVID-19, host Jay Levine and Porter Wright attorney Allen Carter discuss how federal and state governments protect consumers in these instances, how the COVID-19 crisis impacts the laws and what companies need to know to protect their business.

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iTunes
Episode 40
Antitrust during COVID-19 Part 1: Concerns about collaboration

During the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve seen companies collaborating on some great ideas. Companies should keep in mind, however, that the antitrust laws still apply and those who don’t follow them may pay dearly later. In the first of a three-part series about antitrust and consumer protection during COVID-19, host Jay Levine talks to Porter Wright attorney Allen Carter about how companies can collaborate during the current crisis, what business owners should do to protect themselves and how the government is helping and what it is watching out for. The next podcast in this series will discuss price gouging and hoarding, how federal and state governments protect consumers and what companies need to know to protect their business.

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