Sidley Austin LLP
Sidley Austin LLP
William has more than three decades of experience in the fields of antitrust and consumer protection. Most of his experience has been in private practice, but from 2005 to 2009 he served as the General Counsel of the Federal Trade Commission.
In private practice, his engagements have involved evaluation and advice, regulatory filings, civil and criminal investigations, advocacy before federal and state enforcement agencies (most frequently the U.S. Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission), coordination with foreign counsel, negotiation and entry of consent orders, and federal court litigation. Notable representative matters have included the following public-record cases:
- United States v. Verso Paper Corp. (representing Catalyst Paper as a third-party purchaser of paper mills divested pursuant to consent settlement as a condition of Verso’s acquisition of NewPage Holdings).
- FTC v. Hearst Trust (representing Wolters Kluwer as third-party purchaser of an electronic data business divested by Hearst pursuant to a consent settlement arising from a prior merger).
- In re Lafarge S.A. (representing Blue Circle in its merger with Lafarge and in the negotiation of a consent order permitting transaction to proceed).
- In re Agrium, Inc. (representing Agrium in its purchase of fertilizer business of Unocal and in the negotiation of a consent order permitting the transaction to proceed).
- United States v. UCAR International, Inc. (representing UCAR in negotiation of a plea agreement relating to cartel claims).
- In re Fleet Finance, Inc. (representing Fleet in an investigation of its lending practices and in the negotiation of a consent order relating to Truth in Lending Act claims).
- Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Russell Stover Candies, Inc. (representing Pet Incorporated in the sale of its Whitman’s Candies chocolate subsidiary to Russell Stover and in the defense of the transaction against a government motion for preliminary injunction, which motion was denied after hearing).
- In re First Brands Corporation (representing First Brands in an investigation of advertising claims relating to degradability of Glad bags and in the negotiation of a related consent order).
- United States v. Nippon Sanso K.K. (representing Nippon Sanso in its acquisition of Semi-Gas Systems and in the defense of the transaction against a government motion for preliminary injunction, which motion was denied after hearing).
- United States v. Agway Petroleum Corporation (representing Agway in an investigation of its marketing practices and in the negotiation of a consent order relating to trade regulation rule governing octane).
- In re NEC Home Electronics (U.S.A.), Inc. (representing NEC in an investigation of its advertising claims and in the negotiation of a related consent order).
- Advanced Television Systems Committee (serving for 20 years as outside general counsel to the standard-setting organization that developed high definition television).
During Bill’s four-year term as General Counsel of the FTC, he served as the agency’s chief law officer. His responsibilities included advising the Commission on law and policy, representing the agency in federal and state courts, and coordinating with other agencies of government. Among his other activities while at the FTC, Bill:
- Oversaw the agency’s participation in a series of cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, including Altria Group, Inc. v. Good (preemption of marketing claims), Leegin Creative Leather Products, Inc. v. PSKS, Inc. (resale price maintenance), Credit Suisse Securities (USA) LLC v. Billing (antitrust immunity), Safeco Ins. Co. v. Burr (willfulness under Fair Credit Reporting Act), Weyerhaeuser Co. v. Ross-Simmons Hardwood Lumber Co. (predatory buying), Texaco, Inc. v. Dagher (joint venture pricing agreement), Illinois Tool Works, Inc. v. Independent Ink, Inc. (presumption of market power from patent ownership in tying case), and Volvo Trucks North America, Inc. v. Reeder-Simco GMC, Inc. (price discrimination among non-competing dealers). More generally, he supervised the agency’s litigation in the federal courts of appeal, most notably in FTC v. Whole Foods Market, Inc. (standard governing issuance of preliminary injunction in FTC merger challenge).
- Supervised the agency’s hearings and policy development in the area of intellectual property, patents and standards. He worked closely with counterparts at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to align policy positions, most notably in amicus advocacy before the U.S. Supreme Court in eBay Inc. v. MercExchange, L.L.C. (standard governing issuance of preliminary injunction in private infringement action) and KSR International Co. v. Teleflex Inc. (standard governing obviousness assessment).
- Played a lead role in the government’s engagement on issues of competition policy with other countries, particularly in Asia, and worked closely with counterparts in the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Department of Commerce and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. In particular, Bill served as a principal voice of the U.S. government in ongoing discussions with China over its new Anti-Monopoly Law, including through quarterly meetings in Beijing during the period 2005-09. He consulted regularly with the Japan Fair Trade Commission, and he represented the U.S. government in meetings with the JFTC, members of the Diet, and the business community concerning revisions to Japan’s Anti-Monopoly Act. He oversaw the provision of technical assistance to the Competition Commission of India, and he represented the U.S. government in periodic meetings with the CCI and India’s Ministry of Corporate Affairs. In recognition of his contributions to the development of competition law in the region, Bill was awarded honorary life membership in India’s International Academy of Laws.
- Served as a public voice of the agency in articulating major policy positions, particularly on international competition policy, merger process and intellectual property. Bill’s speeches remain posted at www.ftc.gov/speeches/blumenthal.shtm.