Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Panel urges repeal of '30s era antitrust law

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A 1930s-era antitrust law designed to protect small retailers should be repealed, a government-appointed panel of U.S. antitrust experts recommended on Tuesday.
The commission, which has been meeting and deliberating for three years, said lawmakers should put an end to the Robinson-Patman Act, which bars suppliers from engaging in anticompetitive price discrimination.
"The act has really outlived its usefulness and is better put to rest," said Jonathan Jacobson, an antitrust lawyer with the firm Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati and a member of the commission.
Repeal of the Robinson-Patman Act was the biggest change recommended by the commission, which was tasked with a review of the Sherman Act and other U.S. antitrust laws to see if they were in line with the modern economy.
Overall, the commission concluded that the antitrust laws are fundamentally sound and flexible enough to deal with relatively new industries such as computer software.
The commission also recommended that the two agencies that share responsibility for reviewing mergers -- the Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission -- act more quickly to decide which agency will review each particular deal.
Further, the commission suggested that the two agencies study and report to Congress on the possibility of developing a centralized international pre-merger notification system.

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