September 25, 2015
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In FTC v. Steris, the FTC was handed a rare litigation defeat. The case was notable because it involved a merger between companies who were not current competitors. The FTC alleged that without the merger, Synergy would have entered the US sterilization market with a disruptive new technology that would have undermined the current duopoly and benefited customers. The court found little in the evidence to support the FTC’s theory. To be sure, there will be some soul-searching at the FTC as to how the Court could find the weight of the evidence so strongly on the side of the merging parties. However, because the case was decided on the single factual question of whether Synergy would have entered the U.S. market independently, the case has little precedential value and is unlikely to significantly alter the FTC’s general approach to mergers involving potential competitors.