Antitrust in the News This Week
Supreme Court Hears Arguments in Dental Case
On October 14th, the Supreme Court heard arguments in North Carolina Board of Dental Examiners v. Federal Trade Commission. The case arose when non-dentists in hair salons, spas, and shopping malls began offering teeth whitening services. The state’s Board of Dental Examiners ordered them to stop. When the FTC sued, the board claimed they were engaged in a type of state action immune from the Sherman Act under Parker v. Brown.
In an argument analysis posted at SCOTUSBlog, Eric M. Fraser writes that the Court seemed highly skeptical of the board’s argument. At the same time, the Court will be worried about ruling too broadly in this case, and thus potentially deterring knowledgeable professionals from serving on such boards by opening them up to antitrust liability.
Sysco Looks to Sell Assets to Secure US Foods Merger
Regulators are expressing “serious concerns” with a proposed $3.5 billion merger between Sysco and US Foods. The FTC worries that the merger between the #1 and #2 food distributors will serve to eliminate Sysco’s only national competitor. Sysco will attempt to sell some assets to smaller regional distributors in attempt to win regulatory approval.
Jean Tirole Wins Nobel Prize
French Economist Jean Tirole was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economic Science this week for his work on market power and regulation. Some of Tirole’s work focused on vertical integration and the problem of vertical foreclosure, and is credited by one former regulator with influencing the conditions put on Comcast’s acquisition of NBC Universal.