Taylor M. Owings is a partner in Baker Botts Antitrust and Competition Practice Group. She represents clients in civil merger and non-merger matters both in front of government agencies and in private litigation. She also counsels clients on the application of antitrust law to their business activities, with special experience in issues related to the digital economy.
Prior to joining the firm, Ms. Owings served as Counsel and Chief of Staff in the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice from 2018 to 2021. In that role, Ms. Owings was a key advisor to the Assistant Attorney General on the application of antitrust law to technology industries, including in the Department of Justice’s review of the business practices of market-leading online platforms and in the application of antitrust law to the exercise of intellectual property rights and standard setting organizations. As Chief of Staff of the Antitrust Division, Ms. Owings was responsible for ensuring the high quality of all public advocacy issued by the Division, including court filings, policy statements, and speeches.
The intersection of intellectual property (IP) and antitrust law is again a hot debate after a recent speech by the U.S. Department of Justice Antitrust Division’s (“DOJ” or “Division”) Economics Director of Enforcement, Jeffrey Wilder, titled Leveling the Playing Field in the Standards Ecosystem: Principles for a Balanced Antitrust Enforcement Approach to Standards-Essential Patents. Before we dive in on the key takeaways from the speech, and our thoughts on potential ramifications, it bears briefly mentioning how we got here.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has pledged to use more of its enforcement resources to ensure that consumers are free from manufacturer-imposed restrictions on self-repair or third-party repair, to the maximum extent allowed under the law. The unanswered question is: how far does the law allow the FTC to go? The answer is, quite possibly, not as far as the White House or the new Chair of the FTC, Lina Khan, would like. One problem for the FTC: doubts about the authority granted to the agency under the FTC Act. Another hurdle will be the legal protections granted to manufacturers—both as market participants responding to consumer demand and, in many cases, as the owners of intellectual property rights. This blog has already discussed some of the ways that the “right to repair” movement might conflict with copyright protections. Here, we focus on the limits of the FTC’s authority and antitrust doctrine, as well as conflicts with patent law.