President Biden is expected to sign an executive order today focusing on competition that includes 72 separate initiatives. The following are a few.
- Non-Compete Agreements: About half of private-sector businesses require non-compete agreements. This stifle’s competitions and limits workplace mobility. The FTC is being asked to either ban or significantly limit non-compete agreements.
- License Requirements: About 1/3 of jobs in the US require some sort of license from a state authority. These licenses limit mobility and lock folks out of certain jobs. The FTC is being asked to ban occupational licensing requirements that impede economic mobility.
- Prescription Drugs: Drug prices are higher in the US than in any other country — even for the identical product. This is largely a construct of Federal Law. The FDA is directed to begin importing prescription drugs from Canada (in cooperation with states and tribes); The HHS is directed to support for generic and biosimilars and create a comprehensive plan (within 45 days) to combat high prescription drug prices and price gouging; FTC is asked to ban “pay for delay” agreements between patent owners and generic competitors.
- Right to Repair: The FTC is encouraged to “limit powerful equipment manufacturers from restricting people’s ability to use independent repair shops or do DIY repairs.” This is particularly focused on farmers, but will likely extend to other areas.
- Hearing Aids: Sell these over the counter.
- Hospitals: Complete implementation of hospital price transparency rules. Recognize that hospital mergers are usually not good for patients.
- Obamacare: Do a post-Trump revamp of the National Health Insurance Marketplace to standardize plans and make it much easier for consumers to understand and comparison shop.
- Internet: Restore net neutrality rules; limit early termination fees for home internet; require more transparency in pricing; limit private deals between ISPs and landlords that limit tenant access to competition and benefit the landlord.
- Internet Mergers: Apply greater scrutiny of mergers, especially by dominant internet platforms.
- Privacy: The FTC is encouraged to develop rules on surveillance and the accumulation of data by big-tech and to bar unfair competition in internet marketplace.
- Passenger Train: Encourage the Surface Transportation Board to require railroad track owners to provide rights of way to passenger rail and to strengthen their obligations to treat other freight companies fairly.
More to come on this topic. Note, the statement does not mention patent rights or intellectual property, but several of the orders have IP implications.