Message from Assistant Attorney General Bill Baer

Message from Assistant Attorney General Bill Baer

Division Update Spring 2015
Assistant Attorney General Bill Baer photo

Bill Baer
Assistant Attorney General

Thank you for checking out the Antitrust Division’s 2015 Spring Update.

Our dedicated team continues to work hard to make sure that American consumers benefit from free and fair markets. In the last two months alone, the Division won a ruling that American Express’s antisteering rules violated Section One of the Sherman Act; our lawsuit caused National CineMedia and Screenvision to abandon their ill-conceived merger to monopoly; we unwound an anticompetitive joint venture that targeted tourists in New York City; and we brought our first prosecution ever for using a pricing algorithm to fix prices on the Internet. Details on these enforcement efforts and others can be found in our Civil Program Update and Criminal Program Update and our discussions of the American Express trial victory and civil disgorgement.

Cartel prosecution remains a key focus. Since 2009, the Division has convicted over 300 executives and over 100 companies for price fixing and bid rigging and obtained billions of dollars in corporate fines and penalties. We will continue to prosecute those who succumb to the temptation to collude rather than compete—across all industries, from local real estate foreclosure conspiracies to international auto parts cartelists—wherever the American consumer is put at risk. And, as we showed last year, we will pursue extradition of those who attempt to evade the jurisdiction of the U.S. courts.

Enforcing the antitrust laws across many different industries requires adherence to the same basic principles. Our mission is to attack attempts to limit competition and to remove restraints on competition. We do not pick winners and losers; we focus on removing obstacles to competitive markets and protecting market structures that encourage competition. We want innovators to innovate and disrupters to disrupt, and for American consumers to benefit from dynamic markets. Being effective also means being prepared to be put to our proof. The Division’s dedicated staff, both civil and criminal, work hard to make sure that we are ready to take cases before a judge or jury.

We appreciate the value of antitrust guidance as new business models and new technologies emerge. Our work last year on the cyber threat policy statement with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the related CyberPoint International LLC business review letter, and on the Division’s recent business review letter to the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc., evidence that commitment.

Cooperation is another element of effective antitrust enforcement. Among others, we work with state attorneys general, the FTC, Federal Communications Commission, and the Departments of Transportation, Commerce, and Agriculture, to ensure that public policy represents sound competition principles. Around the world, we work with fellow enforcers from many jurisdictions and organizations like the International Competition Network and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development to share best practices and tighten the bonds that link the international antitrust enforcement community together. Details on this work are available in our International Program Update.

This year, as in any other year, our accomplishments were achieved through the hard work of dedicated public servants. We are pleased to introduce some of the new faces at the Division, share an interview with one of our most experienced and successful career trial attorneys, Craig Conrath, profile three of the Division’s most accomplished economists, and provide some more detail about the work being done to make sure the Division’s workplace reflects our nation’s rich diversity.

Thank you for your interest in the work of the Antitrust Division.

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