1922 Encyclopædia Britannica/Federal Trade Commission

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FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION. This American Commission was created by Act of the U.S. Congress, approved Sept. 26 1914, for the prevention of unfair methods of competition in commerce. It is composed of five members appointed by the President, and confirmed by the Senate: not more than three members may be of the same political party. The Commission elects its own chairman. It entered upon its official duties March 16 1915. With it was merged the Bureau of Corporations, previously under the jurisdiction of the Department of Commerce.

If the Commission has reasons to believe that a “person, partnership or corporation” practises any unfair method to the prejudice of the public interest, it shall serve a notice upon such party, submit a statement of the charges, and set a date for a hearing. The party complained of has the right to appear and show cause why the Commission should not require the cessation of practices alleged to be in violation of the law. If the party refuses to obey the orders of the Commission, the Commission may apply to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Banks and common carriers are excepted, they being under other Federal supervision. The Commission is empowered to investigate from time to time “the organization, business, conduct, practices, and management” of any commercial corporation and its relation to any other corporation, and to make recommendations for a readjustment of its business alleged to be violating the anti-trust laws, including those relating to price discriminations, intercorporate stock-holdings, and interlocking directorates. The purpose of the Commission is to advise and regulate rather than to punish. It is also empowered to investigate trade conditions of foreign countries as affecting the foreign commerce of the United States, and to report to Congress with recommendations. The Commission comprises three departments: administrative; economic, in charge of investigations; and legal, for enforcing its findings.