In 1914, Congress passed the FTC Act, creating the Federal Trade Commission. Section 5 of the FTC Act declared “unfair methods of competition in or affecting commerce” to be unlawful and gave the FTC enforcement power over such “unfair methods.” More than 100 years later, that key language in Section 5 underlying the agency’s competition-related powers had never been the subject of any formal FTC guidance. Clearly, “unfair methods of competition” include Sherman and Clayton Act violations, and some argue that Section 5 reaches beyond those statutes. But exactly what kind of additional conduct falls within the FTC’s Section 5 powers has been a long-unsettled question.
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