The Justice Department has been quietly ramping up antitrust enforcement under the Biden administration, despite not having a politically confirmed official to serve as antitrust chief, reports the Wall Street Journal. Attorney General Merrick Garland, described the antitrust division as “energized and eager to go forward,” saying the department had ongoing matters “involving everything from agriculture, to banking, to real estate.”
The department also is expected to embrace policies that give companies less room to use their intellectual-property rights to limit competition. And the DOJ recently signaled that it had concerns about the adequacy of new guidelines released just last year that govern how it and the FTC review so-called vertical mergers of companies that don’t directly compete with one another. Some prominent business groups have expressed concerns that the administration’s plans are heavy-handed and could interfere with the economy, though views are mixed, with smaller businesses, merchants and farmers generally supporting efforts to make markets more open. In the absence of a politically appointed chief, the antitrust division is being closely supervised by the office of Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta, the Justice Department’s No. 3 official.