WASHINGTON, June 11 (Reuters) - A U.S. appeals court on Friday threw out a complaint that the Federal Trade Commission brought against 1-800 Contacts, instructing the agency, which enforces antitrust law, to dismiss it.
The agency had filed a lawsuit against 1-800 Contacts in 2016, accusing it of illegally reaching agreements with other sellers that required them to refrain from advertising to consumers who had searched online for 1-800 Contacts. In exchange, 1-800 Contacts agreed not to advertise to individuals who searched for the names of rivals.
The FTC said the agreements were unlawful, but 1-800 Contacts disagreed and has fought the agency in an administrative FTC proceeding and in a federal appeals court.
The company argued that the deals were aimed at protecting investments made in establishing its trademark.
The 2nd Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in New York said that the commission "incorrectly concluded that the agreements are an unfair method of competition." It sent the case back to the commission "with orders to dismiss the administrative complaint."
Neither the FTC nor 1-800 Contacts immediately responded to a request for comment. (Reporting by Diane Bartz; additional reporting by Jon Stempel; editing by Jonathan Oatis)