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Dear Trump FTC: Please Stop Doing Obama FTC-esque Things
Yet Another DC
Department of Inertia
(Speaking of DC Redundancies) As we have repeatedly noted, there is a whole lot of good going on in the Donald Trump Administration. But we are not sporting rose spectacles - we of course recognize that there is some serious bad going on as well. The lion share of the bad - isn’t being done by Trump’s people. It is being done by holdover Swamp creatures - personnel from the Barack Obama Administration and before. As we have repeatedly noted, Trump’s greatest mistake - was not making many, many more people leave DC when he arrived. And so it is at the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Which because of holdover people and policies - continues to do some very bad work. To wit: January 17, 2017 - three days before being Inaugurated out of power - the Obama FTC filed a ridiculous lawsuit against innovation corporation Qualcomm. At the very ridiculous, very crony behest of computer giant Apple. Apple: ‘We Won’t Pay You. We’ll Keep Using Your Stuff – But We Won’t Pay You: “Apple told Qualcomm it will stop paying licensing revenue to contract manufacturers of the iPhone, the mechanism by which it’s paid the chipmaker since the best-selling smartphone debuted in 2007.…” FTC Charges Qualcomm With Monopolizing Key Semiconductor Device Used in Cell Phones: “The Federal Trade Commission filed a complaint in federal district court charging Qualcomm Inc. with using anticompetitive tactics to maintain its monopoly in the supply of a key semiconductor device used in cell phones and other consumer products.” Get all that? Qualcomm holds patents - which Apple needs to make their iPhones and other products into something more than glorified, skinny, shiny pieces of metal. Apple signed many contracts agreeing to pay Qualcomm for said patents - but has now unilaterally decided to stop paying. And in an attempt to give crony Apple’s massive heist the veneer of respectability - the crony Obama FTC filed an absurd monopoly lawsuit against Qualcomm. Again, Qualcomm holds PATENTS - which are government-issued, government-and-Constitution-sanctioned monopolies. The government issued Qualcomm the patents - and then the Obama FTC sued Qualcomm…for lawfully using them. And because of the way DC stupidly works - this ridiculous Obama FTC lawsuit has continued moving forward in the Trump FTC. The FTC is to be populated by five voting Commissioners (one of whom serves as Chairman) - three of the President’s Party and two of the other. Trump’s nominees are being held up by Senate Democrats - so the current, diminished makeup is but one Commissioner of each Party. So the Trump Administration’s FTC is stymied - and can’t vote to end the Obama FTC’s ridiculous Qualcomm lawsuit. Seeing this combination of awful government policy and awful government inertia, another intellectual property (IP) thief has followed stupid suit - in the hopes of benefiting from the inanity. Because betting on bad government is almost never a terrible idea. Behold Xceligent. A company that has been stealing terabytes of copyrighted data from company CoStar - to then use it to compete against CoStar. CoStar rightly, reasonably sued Xceligent - to stop the theft, and get back their data. A search warrant execution on Xceligent’s Philippine server farm - recovered thirty-five terabytes of CoStar’s copyrighted materials (and uncovered a massive cash of data for a global child sex trafficking ring). Undaunted by this avalanche of Reality, Xceligent has pressed on - and filed a new legal briefing saying they are entitled to CoStar’s data under what is called the “Essential Facilities Doctrine” of antitrust law. What Xceligent is absurdly attempting to claim is CoStar is a monopoly (it isn’t - Hello, Xceligent). And thus CoStar is a public utility. And thus the “Essential Facilities Doctrine" strips completely CoStar’s copyright rights. Which, thus, liberates Xceligent to steal dozens of terabytes of CoStar’s copyrighted data. And because the magic word “antitrust” was invoked - some in the Trump FTC are taking this ridiculous raft of nonsense seriously. Again, I would be willing to bet much coin that the personnel in the Trump FTC taking this Xceligent nonsense seriously - were not put in place by the Trump FTC. And thankfully - unlike the Obama FTC’s ridiculous Qualcomm lawsuit - putting an end to the Xceligent inanity doesn’t require a vote of the diminished, stalemated Commission. It only takes a Trump-appointed staffer or two to declare the Trump FTC’s interest in Xceligent’s ludicrous claim - to have reached a wholly disinterested end. Simple. Clean. And excellent policy. All very un-Obama FTC. This first appeared in Red State.