A U.S. District Court judge has ordered 65 of the largest corporations in American to appear in court here on Dec. 13 to show cause why they should not be held in contempt for failure to provide information sought by the Federal Trade Commission.
The court order stems from a 1975 FTC request to nearly 500 companies to file information on what lines of business they were in and 1,100 companies to provide information for the FTC's Corporate Patterns survey.
Although hundreds of firms did comply with the requests, dozens did not, including such corporate giants as Exxon Corp., Polaroid Corp., Texaco Inc., Bethlehem Steel Corp., Coca-Cola Co., The Firestone Tire & Rubber Co., the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. and the Kellogg Co.
The companies had mounted a prolonged legal attack seeking to prevent the FTC from getting the information, but lost the final round of that fight Nov. 6, when the Supreme Court declined to review the lower courts' decisions sustaining the validity of the commission's orders.
Under the conditions of lower court orders, both reports were due immediately upon the Supreme Court's decision not to hear the cases, although the commission had granted extensions of that deadline in order to give time for compliance.
"While most of the companies involved in the litigation have now either filed reports or sought extensions of time from the commission's staff, the companies involved in the contempt proceeding had neither filed reports nor sought extensions of time," the FTC said in a statement accompanying the court announcement yesterday
In yesterday's order, 51 firms were told to turn over the information for the Corporate Patterns Report, and 41 (including many of the same companies) were told to file Line of Business reports.
Commission officials said they expected most of the firms to comply before the Dec. 13 hearings.