FTC Commissioners Disagree on Limits of Section 5 Applicability to Conduct Not Otherwise Covered by Antitrust Laws

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The balancing of antitrust enforcement with intellectual property protections is often controversial. Equally controversial is identifying the outer limit of Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act as it may apply to conduct not otherwise covered by the antitrust laws. Both of these controversies are on display in a consent decree recently accepted by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on a 3-2 vote.

On November 26, 2012, the FTC issued a proposed consent decree requiring Robert Bosch GmbH (Bosch) to divest a portion of its business to prevent anticompetitive effects from its acquisition of SPX Service Solutions U.S. LLC. According to the complaint, Bosch’s acquisition would create a virtual monopoly and cause significant harm to consumers in the market for automobile air conditioning servicing equipment known as “air conditioning recycling, recovery and recharge devices” (ACRRRs).

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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