FTC votes to make “right to fix” a priority, abandons 1995 merger policy
WASHINGTON, July 21 (Reuters) – The United States Federal Trade Commission on Wednesday voted to prioritize addressing the issue of manufacturers pushing consumers to use authorized dealers to repair items ranging from smartphones to farm equipment , a practice that critics qualify as anti-competitive. .
The five commissioners, three Democrats and two Republicans, voted unanimously to approve the policy statement.
“The FTC has a range of tools it can use to eliminate illegal repair restrictions and today’s policy statement would commit us to move forward on this issue with new vigor,” said the President. FTC Lina Khan in an unusual public hearing, the agency’s second this month. Read more
Commissioner Noah Phillips, a Republican, supported the step. “While there are legitimate repair restrictions, whether for smartphones or tractors, I absolutely agree that there are many unwarranted restrictions that make (repairs) excessively difficult and expensive. “, did he declare.
The vote follows an agency report released in May that found manufacturers often discourage third-party repairs who may charge consumers less than dealers. These include disparaging spare parts not made by the manufacturer and licensing agreements.
The problem was one of dozens spelled out in an executive order that the White House Biden issued this month. Read more
The US Chamber of Commerce vehemently objected to the way the meeting unfolded. Chamber vice president Sean Heather said the agency’s new open meetings “have passed a vote now, discuss a subsequent political approach that ignores public comment, making the whole process anything but transparent and honest “.
FTC commissioners voted in agreement with the parties to rescind a 1995 policy statement regarding pre-approval of mergers. With the declaration rescinded, a company that has been prevented from proceeding with a merger must notify the FTC in advance if it is considering a similar transaction. The FTC could then stop the new deal without spending months investigating the new deal.
Commissioner Christine Wilson, a Republican, said there was no evidence to support the removal of the 1995 policy statement.
Commissioner Rebecca Slaughter, a Democrat, said FTC staff spent a lot of time and resources looking for “clearly anti-competitive” mergers. “I think a lot about the deterrent we have to send,” she said.
The FTC also voted unanimously to maintain a rule requiring clothing manufacturers to specify how their clothing is to be cared for, but said it would update it.
Reporting by Diane Bartz; Editing by Richard Chang
Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.