William Kovacic (FTC): A new Chairman for the FTC

 You were appointed as Chairman of the FTC in April 2008. However, the FTC is a well-known administration for you. Indeed, from 1979 to 1983, you served as a staff attorney and as an advisor to one of the FTC’s Commissioner. Later from 2001 until 2004, you served as the General Counsel of the FTC. How would you compare the FTC of today with the agency you joined nearly 30 years ago?

 In addition to your highly valuable experience at the FTC, you are a prolific writer, and a famous teacher and speaker on antitrust topics both in the US and all around the world. What benefits can the FTC expect from this tremendous expertise? What experiences do you consider the most influential in leading you to the FTC nomination?

 What are your top priorities for the FTC both in terms of areas of antitrust law and economic sectors? How the outcomes of the forthcoming US presidential election may affect such priorities?

 Do you think there are areas of potential evolution of the US antitrust law and policy? In this respect, what are, if any, the most interesting recommendations suggested by the Antitrust Modernization Commission in its report released on 2 April 2007 that you think would be worth adopting?

 The US FTC is empowered to enforce both antitrust and consumer protection policy. What strengths and weaknesses does this double responsibility imply?

 You have always favored the development of stronger cooperative relationships with other competition institutions and state bodies in the US in order to improve the institutional framework of competition policy and to promote greater awareness of competition to the various stakeholders. In this respect, you recently declared having some plans to create a “domestic competition network”. In building such a network, how would you ensure that States comply with antitrust law? How would they fit in this network?

 On major issues, one year after the US Supreme Court’s landmark decision on the Leegin case, there is still high uncertainty on how the courts will apply the rule of reason to assess resale price maintenance. Do you share the Supreme Court’s view that the rule of reason’s standards might well be developed according to the courts’ experience with the practice over time?

 On unilateral conducts, do you think that, beyond the linguistic differences between the US and EU standards, the US and EU approaches tend to converge on the substance?

 On merger control matters, last 18 May 2008, Democrat candidate Barack Obama critized President Bush’s administration for lax supervision of major mergers leading to consolidation of sectors like the media and the energy industries, to the detriment of consumers. How would you react to such declaration?

 Turning now to international affairs, as mentioned before, you have acquired a strong expertise in international competition cooperation. The current international competition landscape might be extremely different from the one you discovered when you started being involved in competition matters abroad. What are the big challenges faced by the international competition community today? Bilateral as well as multilateral cooperation have both shown their limits. However, globalization imposes more international cooperation. How can we be more successful in that respect?

Interview conducted by Stéphanie Yon-Courtin, French External Trade in Normandy.

William KOVACIC Chairman, US Federal Trade Commission 2008 Chairman of the US Federal Trade Commission 2006 Commissioner at the US FTC 2001-2004 General Counsel of the US FTC Since 1992 Adviser on antitrust and consumer protection issues to various foreign governments including Egypt, El Salvador, Georgia, Russia and Vietnam Since 1986 Professor at the George Mason University School of Law and at the George Washington University School of Law 1978 Columbia University 1974 Princeton University * Interview by Mrs Stéphanie Yon, Adviser for International Affairs in the Staff of the President, Conseil de la concurrence, Paris. This is the full version of the interview for the electronic version of the review. Stéphanie YON: You were appointed as Chairman of the FTC in April

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  • George Washington University - School of Law (Washington)
  • European Parliament (Strasbourg)


William E. Kovacic, Stéphanie Yon-Courtin, William Kovacic (FTC): A new Chairman for the FTC, September 2008, Concurrences N° 3-2008, Art. N° 20388, pp. 5-9

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