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THE LATEST: American Guild of Organists Reaches Settlement Agreement with the FTC over Challenged Professional Association Rules

The two current commissioners of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) approved a final order and consent agreement with the American Guild of Organists (AGO) after a public comment period of two months. The FTC alleged that the AGO violated Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act by agreeing to restrain competition among its organist and choral conductor members. Under the terms of the settlement, the AGO agreed to make certain changes to its rules and policies. WHAT HAPPENED The AGO represents approximately 15,000 member organists and choral directors in 300 chapters in the United States and abroad. The FTC initiated an inquiry into the AGO’s practices in late 2015 after receiving complaints from consumers and organists regarding guild rules. Specifically, the AGO’s rules required a customer seeking to hire a musician who was not dedicated as the “incumbent musician” in a particular area to pay both the “incumbent musician” in the area as well as the...

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THE LATEST: FTC Files Complaint Against Louisiana Real Estate Appraisers Board

This week, the Federal Trade Commission filed an administrative complaint against the Louisiana Real Estate Appraisers Board (LREAB). This complaint is the FTC’s first against a state licensing board since it prevailed in the Supreme Court in the decision in NC State Board of Dental Examiners v. FTC in 2015. There, the Court held that immunity from the antitrust laws under the state action doctrine does not apply to a state board that regulates an industry if: 1) a majority of the board members are active participants in the market they are regulating, and 2) the board has not been actively supervised by the state. McDermott reported in detail about the NC Board of Dental Examiners at the time of the decision. The complaint comes on the tail of a settlement agreement between the FTC and a trade organization, the American Guild of Organists, as reported this week. FTC alleges that the LREAB violated Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act by unreasonably...

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THE LATEST: FTC Settles with Breeder Trade Association over Association Rules That Limited Price Competition for Dairy Bull Semen

The two current commissioners of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) approved another final order and consent agreement with a trade association, this time with the National Association of Animal Breeders, Inc. (NAAB). WHAT HAPPENED: NAAB is a non-profit corporation of approximately 24 member businesses that compete to sell dairy cattle semen to US dairy farms for artificial insemination of dairy cows. Together, the NAAB membership accounts for more than 90 percent of sales to US farms. In 2006, NAAB entered into an agreement with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to develop genomic testing of dairy bulls to predict a bull’s ability to pass along commercially important traits to its daughters, like high milk yield. The new technology, called Genomic Predicted Transmitting Ability (GPTA) was developed by mid-2008. In late 2008, NAAB implemented rules limiting access to the GPTA technology. Specifically, (1) only a NAAB member could obtain a...

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