On April 23, 2024, the Federal Trade Commission (the “FTC”) voted 3-2 to issue its final rule (“Final Rule”) banning employers from imposing noncompete clauses on their workers, approving the final rule in a special Open Commission Meeting. Continue Reading FTC Votes to Ban Noncompete Agreements

On December 18, 2023, the Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice (the “Agencies”) jointly issued Final Merger Guidelines, following a public comment period on the Proposed Merger Guidelines first issued in July. The Final Merger Guidelines update and replace the 2010 Horizontal Merger Guidelines and the rescinded 2020 Vertical Merger Guidelines. The Final Merger Guidelines kept important components from the Proposed Merger Guidelines (e.g., lower thresholds rendering certain transactions presumptively illegal, focus on cumulative effects of multiple acquisitions, etc.). Among the most significant developments from prior iterations of the merger guidelines are the adoption of a market share threshold in determining when a transaction is presumed to be illegal, expansion of the concept of vertical mergers to include mergers involving “related” products or services, and formal espousal of the current Administration’s focus on the impact of mergers on labor.Continue Reading The Wait is Over: DOJ and FTC Issue Final Merger Guidelines

On June 27, 2023, the FTC and DOJ (together the “Agencies”) announced a notice of proposed rulemaking (“NPRM”) proposing extensive revisions to both the rules that implement the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act (the “Act” or “HSR Act”) and the Premerger Notification and Report Form (the “Form”) that merging parties must submit under the Act. Our previous analysis of the NPRM is covered here.Continue Reading Mergers & Acquisitions Update: A Closer Look at the Impact of the FTC and DOJ’s Proposed HSR Act Filing Reform on Private Equity Firms

On September 21, 2023, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) sued Welsh, Carson, Anderson & Stowe (WCAS) and U.S. Anesthesia Partners, Inc. (USAP), in the Southern District of Texas, alleging the two companies “[e]xecuted a multi-year anticompetitive scheme to consolidate anesthesiology practices in Texas, drive up the price of anesthesia services provided to Texas patients, and boost their own profits.”Continue Reading FTC Sues Private Equity Firm and Anesthesiology Practice for Antitrust Violations

On July 19, 2023, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) and United States Department of Justice (“DOJ”) jointly published long-anticipated proposed merger guidelines (the “Proposed Merger Guidelines”), which had been expected since President Biden issued an Executive Order Promoting Competition in the American Economy in the summer of 2021. According to the agencies, the Proposed Merger Guidelines “build upon, expand, and clarify” the prior guidance,[1] to keep up with “modern” market realities.[2] In contrast to the previous versions, the Proposed Merger Guidelines cover both horizontal and vertical mergers. They also cite case law for the first time.[3] Reflecting the Biden Administration’s views on federal antitrust merger enforcement, the Proposed Merger Guidelines substantially expand the types of competitive harm the agencies consider grounds for challenging a transaction under Section 7 of the Clayton Act (which prohibits mergers where the effect is “substantially to lessen competition” or “to tend to create a monopoly”).[4]Continue Reading A Big Deal: FTC and DOJ Issue Long-Awaited New Draft Merger Guidelines

The FTC announced today a notice of proposed rulemaking (“NPRM”)[1] proposing extensive revisions to both the rules that implement the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act (the “Act” or “HSR Act”), and the Premerger Notification and Report Form (the “Form”) that merging parties must submit under the Act. The NPRM would also implement the Merger Filing Fee Modernization Act of 2022. Continue Reading Notice of Proposed Rulemaking: FTC Proposes to Redesign and Dramatically Expand the Scope of the HSR Act Filing Process

Retailers and service providers with US business operations should take note: the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is increasing its scrutiny of negative option marketing activity to combat unfair or deceptive practices related to subscriptions, memberships and other recurring-payment programs. The FTC just issued a notice of proposed rulemaking as part of its ongoing review of its 1973 Negative Option Rule—one of the primary guides for the FTC’s enforcement focus.Continue Reading Negative Option Practices Under Increased Scrutiny in the US

Courts and state legislatures continue to take aim at post-employment non-competes. In a companion blog, we recently detailed the Federal Trade Commission’s proposed rule banning post-employment non-competes. However, for years (and even under the FTC’s overreaching proposed rule), non-competes in the sale of business context have generally received less scrutiny.Continue Reading Buyer Beware: Delaware Declines to Enforce Sale of Business Non-Compete

On January 5, 2023, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) announced a broad proposed rule that would ban employers from imposing noncompete clauses on their workers. The FTC press release announcing the proposed rule states that noncompete clauses—which apply to about one in five American workers—suppress wages, hamper innovation, block entrepreneurs from starting new businesses and reduce American workers’ earnings between $250 billion and $296 billion per year.[1] The proposed rule would prohibit employers from: (1) entering into or attempting to enter into a noncompete with a worker; (2) maintaining a noncompete with a worker; or (3) representing to a worker, under certain circumstances, that the worker is subject to a noncompete. The term “worker” covers paid staff in addition to independent contractors and unpaid staff. The proposed rule does not apply to noncompete provisions imposed upon 25% owners of a business in transaction documents related to the sale of the business. The proposal is subject to a 60-day public comment period commencing when the Federal Register publishes the proposed rule.Continue Reading FTC Seeks to Ban Noncompete Agreements in Employment Contracts

On November 10, 2022, the Federal Trade Commission issued its “Policy Statement Regarding the Scope of Unfair Methods of Competition Under Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act.” The Statement replaces prior guidance on the subject that was rescinded by the FTC on July 1, 2021[1] and “supersedes all prior FTC policy statements and advisory guidance on the scope and meaning of unfair methods of competition under Section 5 of the FTC Act.”Continue Reading FTC Policy Statement on the Scope of Unfair Methods of Competition – A Broad But Vague Warning

Since President Biden’s July 2021 direction to the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) to “curtail the unfair use of non-compete clauses and other clauses or agreements that may unfairly limit worker mobility,” the FTC has ratcheted up its scrutiny of and investigations into non-compete agreements and other restrictive covenants. Now, the FTC has expanded beyond post-employment restrictive covenants to tackle “sale of business” non-competes. Most recently, the FTC voted in favor of a deal-changing proposed order against ARKO Corp. related to its 2021 acquisition of sixty fuel outlets from Corrigan Oil Company.Continue Reading Buyer (and Seller) Beware: The FTC Is Coming for Your M&A Non-Competes