The Antitrust Division has continued to focus on its international initiatives, including international enforcement and policy cooperation, bilateral and multilateral activities, and technical assistance work.
International Enforcement Cooperation
On international cooperation, the Division has enhanced its relationships and increased interactions with other competition agencies. During 2012, the Antitrust Division cooperated on civil merger reviews and civil nonmerger matters—often under waivers from parties and third parties—with many non-U.S. competition agencies, including those in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, the European Union, Germany, Japan, Mexico, South Africa, and the United Kingdom. The Division also cooperated with some of these and other agencies on criminal matters.
E-books is a recent example. In April 2012, the Antitrust Division filed a civil lawsuit against Apple and five of the largest book publishers in the United States, alleging that they conspired to increase the prices consumers pay for e-books. The publishers agreed to settle. The litigation against Apple is ongoing.
The Antitrust Division cooperated closely with the European Commission on the e-books investigation. When the enforcement action was announced, Attorney General Eric Holder thanked “our partners at the European Commission” for their assistance. Former Acting Assistant Attorney General Sharis A. Pozen called the investigation “a shining example of how far we have come in our cooperation efforts.” European Commission Vice President Joaquín Almunia praised the “positive spirit of collaboration which, in spite of our different systems and traditions, allows us to work together.” (Almunia speech, April 18, 2012) This close cooperation also was highlighted in European Commission Vice President Joaquín Almunia’s speech at the Antitrust Division’s Lewis Bernstein memorial lecture series. During his speech, Vice President Almunia reiterated the value of the close U.S.-European Commission relationship in protecting competition. (Almunia speech, March 30, 2012)
As noted, the Division also has worked with our non-U.S. competition agency counterparts on a merger challenge involving UTC/Goodrich and the criminal auto parts investigations, among others.
July 26, 2012
April 11, 2012
Justice Department Reaches Settlement with Three of the Largest Book Publishers and Continues to Litigate Against Apple Inc. and Two Other Publishers to Restore Price Competition and Reduce E-Book Prices
January 30, 2012
Strengthening Bilateral Relationships
The Antitrust Division has fostered close bilateral relationships to facilitate discussions with fellow competition enforcers about nonenforcement competition issues, agency procedures, and specific industry knowledge while building a base for future case cooperation. Such discussions have occurred between the Division and a number of competition agencies, including the Brazilian Administrative Council for Economic Defense, the Canadian Competition Bureau, the European Commission, the Israeli Antitrust Authority, the Japanese Fair Trade Commission, and the Mexican Federal Competition Commission. The Division also participated in conferences and workshops with other competition agencies, including the Korea Fair Trade Commission and the Turkish Competition Authority.
In 2011, the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Antitrust Cooperation (MOU) with the three Chinese antimonopoly agencies—the People’s Republic of China National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM), and State Administration for Industry and Commerce (SAIC). This year we held the first Joint Dialogue meetings on competition policy among all parties to the MOU. The meetings covered a range of policy and technical subjects, including promoting competition in a global economy and various aspects of civil and criminal enforcement.
Following the signing of an MOU in July 2011, the first U.S.-China Joint Dialogue was held in Washington, D.C., on September 24–25, 2012. Senior officials from the Department of Justice and the FTC as well as the three Chinese antimonopoly agencies—the People’s Republic of China National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM), and State Administration for Industry and Commerce (SAIC)—attended the Joint Dialogue.
At the first U.S.-China Joint Dialogue, held in September 2012, the meetings covered a range of policy and technical subjects, including promoting competition in a global economy and various aspects of civil and criminal enforcement.
In addition to the Joint Dialogue, the Division and the FTC engaged with the Chinese antimonopoly agencies in two workshops in China; commented on the Chinese agencies’ draft rules and guidelines; and used both formal and informal exchanges to develop our mutual understanding and cooperative relationships.
On September 27, 2012, the Department of Justice, the FTC, the Indian Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA), and the Competition Commission of India (CCI) signed an MOU on Antitrust Cooperation. The agreement contains provisions for increased communication and cooperation on policy and enforcement matters and establishes a framework for technical cooperation. It also contemplates periodic meetings among officials to exchange information on policy and enforcement priorities.
In September 2012, the Department of Justice, the FTC, the Indian Ministry of Corporate Affairs, and the Competition Commission of India signed an MOU on Antitrust Cooperation.
The MOU reflects the close relationships the agencies have developed and begins a new chapter in collaboration on competition law and policy. Close and cooperative relationships with the MCA and CCI are important priorities for the Antitrust Division’s international program.
The Antitrust Division is actively engaged in the competition work of the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD), International Competition Network (ICN), United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), and several regional organizations.
OECD and ICN
Involvement with the Competition Committee of the OECD has long been an Antitrust Division priority and the Division has remained an active participant, including as Chair of Working Party 3. This year’s OECD Competition Committee meetings covered a variety of new projects, including agency evaluation of enforcement and advocacy; international enforcement cooperation; market definition; behavioral economics; competition indicators; and peer reviews of OECD members. The Antitrust Division has taken a major role in two of these projects: (1) the OECD Competition Committee’s report on procedural fairness, which has been a feature of the Committee’s Working Party 3, and (2) a survey of current practices and future thinking on international enforcement cooperation (which also was a focus of ICN).
The Antitrust Division also is a founding member of ICN, member of the ICN Steering Group Committee, and co-chair of the ICN’s Cartels Working Group (together with the German and Japanese competition agencies).
Other International Initiatives
Over the past year, the Antitrust Division continued to pursue a variety of other important international initiatives. For example, the Division continued its work with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) on its ongoing project to study relationships between intellectual property (IP) and competition policy. Last fall Deputy Assistant Attorney General Renata B. Hesse visited the WIPO Secretariat in Switzerland as part of this project. DAAG Hesse also spoke at the International Telecommunications Union on standard-setting, IP, and competition policy in the telecommunications context.
The Antitrust Division continued to participate in the annual meetings of the UNCTAD Intergovernmental Group of Experts on competition policy. These meetings attract roughly 100 competition agencies from around the world, including those from scores of developing countries, and are focused both on substantive antitrust law as well as effective administrative process. Similarly, the Division remained involved in the work of the Competition Policy and Law Group of the Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation forum (APEC) through participation in the group’s annual meetings and periodic projects.
Finally, as part of the Antitrust Division’s Visiting International Enforcers Program (VIEP), one of the Antitrust Division’s senior career officials visited the European Commission’s Directorate General of Competition (DG Comp) in July 2012. The Antitrust Division hosted two VIEPs from non-U.S. competition agencies, one from DG Comp and the other from the Japan Fair Trade Commission. The VIEP program increases mutual understanding and enhances relations with our enforcement partners around the world.
Taken together, all these efforts have advanced the Division’s mission by facilitating cooperation in international antitrust enforcement and policy initiatives.