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Baer, Ramirez Speak at Antitrust Symposium

September 30, 2013 — “Antitrust’s touchstone should be the preservation or restoration of competition in affected markets — nothing less,” said William J. Baer, assistant attorney general for antitrust at the Department of Justice, delivering his first formal remarks as assistant AG at the Law Center’s seventh annual Global Antitrust Symposium on September 25.

The event, which also featured Federal Trade Commission Chairwoman Edith Ramirez, has “become a key [competition] forum for practitioners, for academicians and for enforcers,” Baer said. 

Baer discussed merger enforcement remedies in several DOJ cases as well as relief in the recent e-books price-fixing case against Apple. “The court concluded that Apple’s senior executives and its in-house counsel were directly involved in orchestrating the price-fixing scheme,” Baer said. “These are the very people who should have been ensuring that Apple was complying with the antitrust laws.”

Baer said he will continue to emphasize effective outcomes during his tenure. “Our fundamental purpose is, and it remains, the effective protection of competition and, thereby, Americans.”

Baker Botts’s Sean Boland (L’75) called Baer “a true Titan” of the antitrust bar. “If he continues to work hard … he’ll be up there with Bob Pitofsky.” Pitofsky, former chairman of Federal Trade Commission and Georgetown Law dean emeritus, was among the more than 250 attendees. 

The symposium, conducted by Georgetown Law’s Continuing Legal Education program, began with a keynote from Ramirez, who listed three challenges in antitrust enforcement today: international enforcement cooperation, fairness of investigations and the need to maintain a consensus regarding the goals of competition policy. “To be an antitrust enforcement agency today is to be a global antitrust enforcement agency,” Ramirez noted.

The all-day event — which featured antitrust issues as well as European perspectives and intellectual property — ended with a panel led by Professor Steven C. Salop that looked at, among other things, the use of big data in merger enforcement. 

Salop co-chaired the symposium with Professor Howard Shelanski, currently on leave from the Law Center to serve as administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs at the Office of Management and Budget. 

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