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US: State dental board urges SCOTUS to maintain the antitrust statue quo

 |  September 7, 2014

As both sides gear up to present their oral arguments beginning in October, the antitrust dispute between the North Carolina Dental Board and the US Federal Trade Commission – which has reached the Supreme Court – is already heating up.

According to reports, the dental board submitted a brief with SCOTUS urging the top court to reject the FTC’s “radical departure” from established antitrust precedent. The group of dental practitioners is fighting to be legally considered a state entity to qualify for antitrust immunity after the FTC issued an administrative complaint in 2010 against the Board.

The dispute arose when the board launched investigations into teeth whitening services provided by non-dentists; the Board eventually issued cease-and-desist letters to those non-dentist groups. The FTC, however, claimed that the action unfairly manipulated the market in favor of dentist teeth whiteners. Federal officials also argued that because the Board is made up of practicing dentists, the group has an unfair advantage to promote their own services.

The Supreme Court agreed earlier this year to hear the case, which will hear the FTC’s argument that because the Board is made up of dentists, the group should be considered a private entity.

The Board’s submission, submitted last week, highlights its own argument, that it qualifies for antitrust immunity as a state agency.

In its brief, the dental group is challenging the FTC’s claim that antitrust immunity is only available for “disinterested public officials.”

Oral arguments in the case are set to begin next month and, according to reports, could disrupt how state regulators are treated under federal competition laws.

Full content: National Law Review

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