FTC, DOJ Issue Guidelines on Joint Ventures

FRAMINGHAM (04/07/2000) - The U.S. Federal Trade Commission and the U.S.

Department of Justice's Antitrust Division have issued the first set of guidelines for companies seeking to collaborate with their competitors on electronic marketplaces and other types of projects.

The guidelines cover "a broad range of horizontal agreements among competitors," according to an FTC statement, "including joint ventures, strategic alliances and other competitor collaborations."

The agencies said technology is driving more companies toward collaborative ventures.

The Antitrust Guidelines for Collaboration Among Competitors set out what the agencies call "an analytical framework to assist businesses in assessing the likelihood of an antitrust challenge" if they decide to work together with an industry competitor.

Some collaborative ventures, such as vertical business-to-business e-commerce marketplaces, have already sparked complaints about possible antitrust violations.

For example, the American Society of Travel Agents asked the Justice Department in February to take action against major U.S. and international airlines that are developing an industry travel Web site. The travel agents worry that the site will results in a monopoly for online travel agents as well as price fixing. In addition, there were reports last month that the FTC was investigating the Big Three automakers' planned online exchange.

"The increasing varieties and use of collaborations by rivals have yielded requests for improved clarity regarding their treatment under the antitrust laws," the agencies said.

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