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President Joe Biden’s changes to M&A rules and the emergence of a stringent antitrust bill could herald tough new antitrust measures—with significant ramifications for IP, reports Muireann Bolger.
“I don’t think we spend nearly enough time focusing on antitrust measures. And the truth of the matter is, I think it’s something we should take a really hard look at,” said Joe Biden in an Associated Press interview in 2019.
Tough words, certainly. But in the immediate wake of the US election, a question mark hung over President Biden’s stance on antitrust issues and its potential implications for IP. Unlike fellow Democrat candidates Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar, Biden did not make antitrust a central tenet of his campaign platform. And at the time of writing this article, he is yet to appoint a new assistant-general of the Department of Justice (DoJ)’s antitrust division.
The new US president’s record on antitrust is mixed. In 1976, Biden voted for the Hart–Scott–Rodino (HSR) Act, creating a premerger notification programme requiring companies to file with the DoJ and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) if a deal’s value meets a set threshold. This allows the agencies to identify and challenge transactions that may contravene antitrust law.
Antitrust, Joe Biden, M&A, Associated Press, DoJ, FTC, Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, big tech, IP lawyers, patent owners, FRAND, SEPs, monopoly