Antitrust Enforcement in the Digital Economy: US
Antitrust enforcement in digital and high-tech markets is not disconnected from traditional antitrust theory or practice. Yet, unique features of firms operating in digital and other high-tech markets can necessitate modification of doctrine. For example, modern antitrust enforcement in digital markets needs to take seriously the presence of network effects in two-sided markets and the procompetitive justifications for various kinds of product design decisions that may otherwise appear to harm competitors under older models of antitrust enforcement. The goal, however, remains enforcement of the consumer welfare standard, even if enforcers and courts must be sensitive to features particular to digital markets.
This chapter takes the 2001 D.C. Circuit opinion in Microsoft as an inflection point in digital antitrust enforcement. With that case we can first clearly see all of the various threads pulled together that run through modern antitrust enforcement in high tech cases. This chapter begins with a brief overview of the precursor cases that informed enforcement up until the late 1990s before devoting attention to Microsoft and the subsequent cases that shape modern antitrust enforcement in digital markets.