Amicus Brief

ICLE and Antitrust Scholars Brief in FTC v Amgen

Brief for Amici Curiae International Center For Law & Economics and 11 Scholars of Antitrust Law and Economics in Support of Defendants’ Opposition to Plaintiffs’ Motion for a Preliminary Injunction

Amici Curiae respectfully submit this brief in support of Defendants’ Opposition to Plaintiffs’ Motion for a Preliminary Injunction (Dkt. 130).[1]


The International Center for Law & Economics (“ICLE”) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, global research and policy center aimed at building the intellectual foundations for sensible, economically grounded policy. ICLE promotes the use of law and economics methodologies, and economic findings, to inform public policy. ICLE has longstanding expertise in antitrust law, and a strong interest in the proper development of antitrust jurisprudence. ICLE thus routinely files amicus briefs in cases, like this one, presenting important issues of antitrust law. ICLE is joined
by 11 scholars of antitrust law and economics (listed in the Appendix to this brief ).


Section 7 of the Clayton Act prohibits mergers where “the effect of such acquisition may be substantially to lessen competition, or to tend to create a monopoly.” 15 U.S.C. § 18. Congress used the word “may” to “indicate that its concern was with probabilities, not certainties.” Brown Shoe Co. v. United States, 370 U.S. 294, 323 (1962). The government thus need not wait for anticompetitive conduct to occur before seeking relief. Id. at 317-18. Still, the government must show a “ ‘reasonable likelihood ’ of a substantial lessening of competition in the relevant market.” United States v. Marine Bancorp., 418 U.S. 602, 622 (1974) (emphasis added).

But—as Yogi Berra might have paraphrased Nils Bohr—it can be “tough to make predictions, especially about the future.” Enforcers and courts thus traditionally approach merger control with caution. Deciding whether to block a merger requires making predictions about its likely impact on competition and consumers. That requires evaluating both the likely future state of the market given the transaction and the “but for” world in which it does not take place, often with limited (but nonetheless sufficiently substantial) information and imperfect (but ideally well-tested) tools.

For decades, courts and enforcers have looked to economic principles to develop a set of considerations to inform and constrain such decision-making. Three of them are especially relevant here: the distinctions among horizontal, vertical, and conglomerate mergers; the distinction between structural and behavioral threats to competition; and the distinction between structural and behavioral remedies. In challenging Amgen’s proposed acquisition of Horizon, the Federal Trade Commission elides all three established distinctions. It instead seeks to block a likely procompetitive conglomerate merger based on harms supposed to arise from a chain of conjectured post-transaction events, where each link in the chain is highly speculative. It is unlikely that they will all come to pass and cause the competitive harm the FTC posits. There is no sound economic basis for blocking the merger here and forfeiting its likely procompetitive benefits. Because the antitrust theory alleged in the complaint lacks merit, the FTC cannot establish the “likelihood of success” necessary for a preliminary injunction. FTC v. Great Lakes Chem. Corp., 528 F. Supp. 84, 86 (N.D. Ill. 1981).

[1] No party’s counsel authored any part of this brief, and no person other than amici and their counsel made a monetary contribution to fund its preparation or submission.