AGs say FTC law needs to be better enforced

By Jessica M. Karmasek | Nov 7, 2011

WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) - A group of attorneys general sent a letter Friday to the Federal Trade Commission and its Bureau of Competition, asking them to better enforce the Federal Trade Commission Act.

Congress passed the act to protect consumers from unfair methods of competition.

But the National Association of Attorneys General says the commission also needs to protect competitors.

In particular, better enforcement of the law is needed to deter foreign manufacturers from using stolen information technology, the NAAG argues.

"That is why each of us is seeking ways to use the traditional power of our offices to address the unfair advantage that results when foreign and other manufacturers use stolen information technology, including pirated software, to illegally slash their costs. Such unfair competition hurts law-abiding businesses in our states, costing jobs and slowing economic recovery," according to the letter from the 36 state and three territorial attorneys general.

In their two-page letter, the attorneys general say the theft of intellectual property is "endemic" in countries to which the nation's manufacturing jobs have been transferred.

"Indeed, the piracy rates for software in some of our largest trading partners are above 80 percent and in some cases, above 90 percent," they wrote.

"The theft of our intellectual property represents economic losses not only to U.S. information technology companies, but also real losses to law-abiding manufacturers doing business in our states that pay the costs of legally acquiring information technology."

The attorneys general also are urging the federal government to consider how the "unfair method of competition prohibition" in Section 5 of the act "can be brought to bear on this problem."

"Your leadership in this effort is particularly important given the fact that not all states have enacted versions of the Federal Trade Commission Act or other laws that could be used to address these serious competitive problems," the attorney generals wrote.

The following states and U.S. territories signed the letter: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Guam, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virgin Islands, Washington, West Virginia and Wyoming.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at jessica@legalnewsline.com.

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