Competition and Consumer Welfare on the Frontier of Freedom
Coming Soon – Health Care and Masters
The contrast cannot get much sharper than this – an academy of competition policy in a thriving economy, followed by a demonstration of dread in a laboratory of deprivation. For the encouraging news on competition, read on. For a sobering epilogue, see my post script.
The Section of Antitrust Law (SAL) brought its Global Seminar Series to Seoul, where we presented two programs preceding the Korean Fair Trade Commission’s biennial International Competition Forum. Vice Chairman Kim of the KFTC reported on competition enforcement, and then panels of experts explored developments in cartel policy and standard essential patents. These areas are hot in Asia. Investigations, prosecutions, and remedies are on the rise, and so are ways of dealing with them. Nuances on leniency policy and alternative causes of action against SEP assertions animated the discussion and intrigued the audience. Subrata Bhattacharjee chaired the event, perhaps the largest GSS to date. Congratulations, Subrata!
At the International Competition Forum, officials, professors and the competition bar examined aftermarkets, information exchanges, and most-favored-nation clauses. Particularly newsworthy for US practitioners, who have seen few successful offspring of the Kodak decision, was the active interest across Asia in aftermarket antitrust. Meanwhile, new media and online platforms have breathed new life into information-exchange and MFN cases. Multinational businesses should recheck their assumptions at border crossings. Views of these practices may depend on where they occur.
Next the action moves to Chicago, where competition and consumer protection in health care comes under the microscope of a Symposium at Loyola University School of Law. Experts, including Zeke Emanuel, the President’s adviser at the origin of Obama Care, will assess how well competition policy is working, and how it can be improved, to protect patients and their pocketbooks. Chaired by Spencer Waller, this Symposium will make news and influence policy. Months from now, the papers and proceedings will be published. Next week, you can see it live, and SAL members can attend free.
Then comes the most unique opportunity in the education of a competition lawyer, the Antitrust Masters Course. This is where many enjoy their first personal encounters with Assistant Attorneys General, FTC Chairs and Commissioners, and senior agency officials, not to mention some of the leading lights of the antitrust bar. Just two weeks away, the course is filling quickly. Kathy Fenton, Irv Scher and Nick Widnell have put together a program that could change a career.
In short, the Section dedicated to Promoting Competition and Protecting Consumers is leaving the station for a great ride. All aboard!
And all the best,
Chair, Section of Antitrust Law 2016-2017
PS – Karen and I spent a third day in Korea visiting the Demilitarized Zone between the North and South. On the way to the DMZ, we stopped at Freedom Bridge, closed now but open briefly sixty years ago to let some lucky POWs return home at the end of the Korean War. Today the bridge is divided by a barrier to prevent anyone else from crossing into freedom. Countless ribbons and notes cover the south side of the barrier and the bridge, a moving expression of hope for the unlucky many who have not yet made it back. Not until we left the bridge, explored the DMZ and peered across miles of forbidden land did we learn what the rest of the world discovered while we were visiting. North Korea had detonated a nuclear bomb, apparently intended to distract its own citizens from the deprivation within and to remind the rest of the world of the fragility of freedom outside. We didn't feel it at the time, but we'll remember it (and our luck) for a long time.
Remembering the missing at Freedom Bridge
Looking at land that had just shuddered in a nuclear blast.