Showing 9 of 79 Publications

Facebook and the Pros and Cons of Ex Post Merger Reviews

TOTM The Federal Trade Commission and 46 state attorneys general (along with the District of Columbia and the Territory of Guam) filed their long-awaited complaints against Facebook Dec. 9. The . . .

The Federal Trade Commission and 46 state attorneys general (along with the District of Columbia and the Territory of Guam) filed their long-awaited complaints against Facebook Dec. 9. The crux of the arguments in both lawsuits is that Facebook pursued a series of acquisitions over the past decade that aimed to cement its prominent position in the “personal social media networking” market.

Read the full piece here.

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Antitrust & Consumer Protection

Geo-Blocking: What is it Good For… A Surprising Amount, Actually

TOTM The European Court of Justice issued its long-awaited ruling Dec. 9 in the Groupe Canal+ case. The case centered on licensing agreements in which Paramount Pictures granted . . .

The European Court of Justice issued its long-awaited ruling Dec. 9 in the Groupe Canal+ case. The case centered on licensing agreements in which Paramount Pictures granted absolute territorial exclusivity to several European broadcasters, including Canal+.

Read the full piece here.

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Intellectual Property & Licensing

Making Sense of the Google Android Decision

ICLE White Paper The European Commission’s recent Google Android decision will go down as one of the most important competition proceedings of the past decade. Yet, in-depth reading . . .

The European Commission’s recent Google Android decision will go down as one of the most important competition proceedings of the past decade. Yet, in-depth reading of the 328-page decision leaves attentive readers with a bitter taste. The problem is simple: while the facts adduced by the Commission are arguably true, the normative implications it draws—and thus the bases for its action—are largely conjecture.

This paper argues that the Commission’s decision is undermined by unsubstantiated claims and non sequiturs, the upshot of which is that the Commission did not establish that Google had a “dominant position” in an accurately defined market, or that it infringed competition and harmed consumers. The paper analyzes the Commission’s reasoning on questions of market definition, barriers to entry, dominance, theories of harm, and the economic evidence adduced to support the decision.

Section I discusses the Commission’s market definition It argues that the Commission produced insufficient evidence to support its conclusion that Google’s products were in a different market than Apple’s alternatives.

Section II looks at the competitive constraints that Google faced. It finds that the Commission wrongly ignored the strong competitive pressure that rivals, particularly Apple, exerted on Google. As a result, it failed to adequately establish that Google was dominant – a precondition for competition liability under article 102 TFEU.

Section III focuses on Google’s purported infringements. It argues that Commission failed to convincingly establish that Google’s behavior prevented its rivals from effectively reaching users of Android smartphones. This is all the more troubling when one acknowledges that Google’s contested behavior essentially sought to transpose features of its rivals’ closed platforms within the more open Android ecosystem.

Section IV reviews the main economic arguments that underpin the Commission’s decision. It finds that the economic models cited by the Commission poorly matched the underlying fact patterns. Moreover, the Commission’s arguments on innovation harms were out of touch with the empirical literature on the topic.

In short, the Commission failed to adequately prove that Google infringed European competition law. Its decision thus sets a bad precedent for future competition intervention in the digital sphere.

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Antitrust & Consumer Protection

Making Sense of the Google Android Decision (part 3): Where is the Harm?

TOTM This is the third in a series of TOTM blog posts discussing the Commission’s recently published Google Android decision. It draws on research from a soon-to-be published ICLE white paper.

For the third in my series of posts about the Google Android decision, I will delve into the theories of harm identified by the Commission.

Read the full piece here.

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Antitrust & Consumer Protection

Making Sense of the Google Android Decision (part 2): Ignoring Google’s Competitors

TOTM This is the second in a series of TOTM blog posts discussing the Commission’s recently published Google Android decision. It draws on research from a soon-to-be published ICLE white paper.

In a previous post, I argued that the Commission failed to adequately define the relevant market in its recently published Google Android decision.

Read the full piece here.

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Antitrust & Consumer Protection

Making Sense of the Google Android Decision (part 1): Four Problems with the EU Commission’s Market Definition

TOTM This is the first in a series of TOTM blog posts discussing the Commission’s recently published Google Android decision. It draws on research from a soon-to-be published ICLE white paper.

The European Commission’s recent Google Android decision will surely go down as one of the most important competition proceedings of the past decade. And yet, an in-depth reading of the 328 page decision should leave attentive readers with a bitter taste.

Read the full piece here.

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Antitrust & Consumer Protection

Innovation Defenses and Competition Laws: The Case for Market Power

Scholarship Abstract The object of this dissertation is to study the role that innovation occupies – and should occupy – in Antitrust/Competition analysis, and to put . . .

Abstract

The object of this dissertation is to study the role that innovation occupies – and should occupy – in Antitrust/Competition analysis, and to put forward a coherent framework for the analysis of “innovation defenses” (defined as situations where a restriction of competition is necessary to produce a socially desirable innovation).

The dissertation is separated into two parts.

Part I adopts a positive law and economics approach, and examines how competition law an innovation might overlap. The dissertation separates this issue into three questions: What is innovation; what are the goals of competition laws on both sides of the Atlantic; and where is the enforcement of competition laws most likely to affect innovation? Having answered these questions, the dissertation examines how European Union (“EU”) competition law currently deals with innovation defenses. If this were done in a satisfactory manner, then there would be little need for a revised innovation defense framework. To this end, the dissertation surveys recent European competition cases to determine whether they incorporate economic concepts related to innovation and whether they overtly take defendants’ incentives to innovate into account. The dissertation shows that European competition law currently does not address innovation defenses in a coherent and satisfactory manner.

Part II takes a more normative stance. In order to fill the perceived policy gap, identified in Part I, it puts forward a framework for innovation defenses (“the framework”). The goal of this framework is not so much to be applied directly, but to guide policymakers through the various issues that would arise if they decided to analyze the potential chilling effects that their enforcement activities may exert on innovation.The framework centers on two key questions: is a given innovation desirable from a social welfare standpoint (i.e. do its social benefits outweigh its social costs), and is a restriction of competition necessary in order to achieve the innovation? The framework hinges on the economic concept of appropriability. Key questions include whether firms take the existence of such frameworks into account, even unwittingly, when they make their investment decisions; how the framework should be implemented; and whether it is compatible with the stated goals of competition laws and existing antitrust legislation on both sides of the Atlantic. The dissertation then applies this framework in a number of case studies and discusses its potential implications.

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Antitrust & Consumer Protection

Submission on the final report of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s Digital Platforms Inquiry

Regulatory Comments In a submission to the Australian Treasury on 12 September 2019, a group of esteemed international scholars critiqued the recently published Final Report of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) Digital Platforms Inquiry.

In a submission to the Australian Treasury on 12 September 2019, a group of esteemed international scholars critiqued the recently published Final Report of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) Digital Platforms Inquiry. 

In its report, the ACCC claims that competition in the media, communications, advertising and other markets it investigated is “not working,”  and that substantial regulatory and legislative changes are necessary to solve—and would solve—the  problems caused by ineffective competition.  

But the premise that competition is not working is not well supported by evidence presented in the report. Meanwhile, the report’s conclusion misses the bigger picture: Government intervention is appropriate only if it produces net social benefits. Yet the ACCC almost entirely omits consideration of the adverse effects of its proposed interventions, which in many cases are likely worse than the alleged problems. As such, the report’s proposals should be treated with great caution.

The submission tackles three “significant oversights”: 

  1. The ACCC’s recommendations on “platform neutrality” and the proposed creation of a “digital platforms branch” underestimate the limits of regulators’ ability to identify market failure and the major difficulties that regulators face when attempting to design markets. For instance, the ACCC recommends that Google be forced to introduce browser and search engine choice screens. Yet it is not clear that the introduction of such screens will either accelerate the entry of competitors or improve users’ experience. 
  2. The ACCC’s attempts to prop up local media firms (through subsidies and other means) appears to be driven by nostalgia for a bygone, pre-modern era, rather than a rigorous assessment of the costs and benefits of media regulation. The ACCC is quick to assume that its recommendations would produce tangible benefits for consumers, but it overlooks the potential market distortions—and impediments to ongoing innovation—that might be generated in the process.
  3. The report’s recommended extension of Australia’s privacy legislation completely ignores the tremendous compliance costs that doing so would impose on firms and, indirectly, on consumers. The recent introduction of privacy legislation in the EU and California suggests that these compliance costs might well outstrip the benefits to users.

The submission notes in conclusion that “The ACCC’s lackadaisical assessment of regulatory costs is all-the-more troubling given that its report focuses on an extremely dynamic industry. What is only a small regulatory cost today could severely hamper competition in the future.”

 

Click here to read the full submission.

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Antitrust & Consumer Protection

The Digital Policy of the Next EU Commission: All roads Lead to Margrethe Vestager

TOTM If the EU wants to turn itself into a digital economy powerhouse, it will have to switch towards light-touch regulation that allows firms to experiment with disruptive services, flexible employment options, and novel monetization strategies.

Ursula von der Leyen has just announced the composition of the next European Commission. For tech firms, the headline is that Margrethe Vestager will not only retain her job as the head of DG Competition, she will also oversee the EU’s entire digital markets policy in her new role as Vice-President in charge of digital policy. Her promotion within the Commission as well as her track record at DG Competition both suggest that the digital economy will continue to be the fulcrum of European competition and regulatory intervention for the next five years.

Read the full piece here.

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Antitrust & Consumer Protection