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For sale by the Superintendent of Documents, U. S. Government Printing Office
Washington 25, D. C.
Price 40 cents (paper cover)
Letter of Transmittal
FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION,
To the Congress of the United States:
It is a pleasure to transmit herewith the Forty-fourth Annual Report of the Federal Trade Commission, covering its accomplishments during the fiscal year ended June 30, 1958. By direction of the Commission.
JOHN W. GWYNNE,
THE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE.
THE SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES.
This annual report by the Federal Trade Commission on its work during fiscal 1958 warrants two conclusions: first, that the Commission has enforced the laws entrusted to it more vigorously than in any year since World War II; and, second, that it has made an unprecedented effort to guide as well as police business practices to the end that unfair competition may be eliminated.
This increase in activity generated even more. As illegal business practices were spotlighted and attacked, more businessmen and consumers came to appreciate the Commission's purpose and to avail themselves of the protection it affords. Thus, the Commission was to find out that the more it accomplished, the more it was called upon
Applications for complaints continued to rise, reaching a postwar peak of 3,782. The response was a record volume of action. Formal complaints challenging monopolistic practices jumped from 55 in 1957 to 86 in 1958. Antitrust orders increased from 31 to 45. The same was true of actions to halt deceptive practices. Here the increase was from 187 complaints to 268, and from 148 cease and desist orders to a 1958 total of 228. Taken together, this represents about a 50percent increase in volume of activity over the previous year and more than double that of as recent a year as 1955.
A significant development was the Commission's decision to give greater emphasis to encouraging voluntary compliance with the laws it administers. In essence, the new emphasis calls for conspicuously identifying a particular area of false and misleading advertising and then setting forth, for the guidance of all concerned, exactly what the law's requirements are. Such clarification, issued either as industry guides or as guides to the Commission's staff, has the double effect of warning sellers against the use of deception and of alerting buyers to what the deception is.
The decision to issue these guides did not derive from any rosy hope that all violators of the law err in ignorance or would respond to governmental finger-wagging. It was based instead on the belief that a clear, emphatic and specific warning on the law's requirements could not be lightly ignored by those reluctant to comply. Defiance