Antitrust & Competition Policy Blog

Editor: D. Daniel Sokol
University of Florida
Levin College of Law

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Thursday, June 2, 2005

The Economic Benefits of NASCAR...

...not so much from the activity but the business form.

Professor Stephen Ross of the University of Illinois School of Law and Professor Stefan Szymanski of the Department of Economics in Imperial College, London, have recently published a paper in the University of Illinois Law and Economics Working Paper Series entitled Antitrust and Inefficient Joint Ventures: Why Sports Leagues Should Look More Like McDonald's and Less Like the United NationsTheir thesis is that joint ventures, such as sports leagues, may be more efficient and responsive to consumer needs if there was more integration of organizational form. Specifically, they suggest that a league like the NFL should set up in a corporate form with the corporation making unilateral, and independent, decisions on management, much like the organization of NASCAR or McDonald's franchises.  The inefficiency of the current organization form for joint ventures stems from transaction costs in group decision making.  The authors "argue that courts could view the current structure as an unlawful refusal of club owners to participate in a sporting competition that they themselves cannot control, which we argue unreasonably restrain trades and unlawfully maintains monopoly power."

June 2, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

The Vulnerable Consumer Sovereign

The Annenberg Public Policy Center at The University of Pennsylvania released a study on consumer fraud on and off the Internet.  Some of the findings reported in "Open to Exploitation" include:

  • Seventy-five percent of respondents wrongly believe that if a Web site has a privacy policy, it won't share their information with third parties.

  • Almost half of the respondents, 49%, couldn't identify "phishing" scam e-mail messages, which information thieves dress up to look as though they come from a legitimate company, such as a bank or store, to lure users to enter sensitive information. Requested information might include Social Security numbers, passwords and bank account numbers.

  • Sixty-two percent of respondents didn't know that an online store can simultaneously charge different prices for the same item based on information it has on different shoppers.
  • The study concludes with policy recommendations to educate and provide better information for consumers.  A link to an article about that study that contains a pdf link can be found here.

    June 2, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

    Microsoft meets EU deadline

    Microsoft Corp. met its midnight deadline to submit a compromise on its landmark antitrust case with the European Union, and EU regulators will likely assess the proposal for weeks before deciding whether to impose fines, officials said yesterday.

    "We have submitted the proposals, and we are awaiting a response from the EU Commission," said Microsoft spokesman Tom Brookes. If the EU deems the proposals insufficient, it could slap heavy sanctions on the software titan.

    "We will now analyze it very carefully and decide whether it is sufficient or not," EU antitrust spokesman Jonathan Todd said.

    A person familiar with the situation said that Microsoft's last-minute submission contained a "few new proposals," but declined to describe their content. A spokesman at Microsoft's Redmond, Wash., headquarters wouldn't comment on the content of the proposals.

    Microsoft has to answer complaints from the EU head office that it wasn't fully complying with last year's ruling against the company, which imposed a fine of €497 million ($612 million) and ruled that the company abusively wielded its Windows software domination to lock its competitors out of the market.

    The EU has the power to slap fines as high as 5% of a company's daily global revenue if its antitrust decisions aren't respected. In its last fiscal year, which ended June 30, 2004, Microsoft had revenue of $36.8 billion.

    Both sides had contacts almost up until midnight Tuesday, the EU-imposed deadline following weeks of negotiations.

    "We received all sorts of documents," said Mr. Todd, refusing to discuss the content of the proposal.

    Once the commission has come to a decision on the Microsoft proposal, it will inform the company, which will then have time to rebut. Then the EU member states will be consulted, and the full EU executive commission will decide on the case. The whole process will probably last until the end of July.

    During the last days of talks, negotiations centered on pricing and royalties that can be charged to allow software competitors to better dovetail their products with Microsoft's Windows platform.

    June 2, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

    Tuesday, May 31, 2005

    2 New Blogs Join Law Professor Blogs Network

    We are pleased to announce the launch of two new blogs as part of our Law Professor Blogs Network:

    These blogs join our existing blogs:

    LexisNexis is supporting our effort to expand the network into other areas of law.  Please email us if you would be interested in finding out more about starting a blog as part of our network.

    May 31, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

    Empagran Redux

    Hanno Kaiser has some interesting posts on his Law and Society blog a valuable visual aid to the Supreme Court's decision in Empagran from last year.   His blog also contains some insightful commentary on post-Empagran caselaw.

    May 31, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

    Regulatory Bargaining and Public Law--look for it soon from Cambridge

    Professor Jim Rossi of the Florida State University College of Law continues to contribute to the important area of regulation and public law with his new book, Regulatory Bargaining and Public Law, forthcoming from Cambridge University Press.  The book announcement states:

    In this book, Professor Rossi explores the implications of a bargaining perspective for institutional governance and public law in deregulated industries, such as electric power and telecommunications. ... Professor Rossi argues that governmental institutions, often influenced by private stakeholders, share blame for the defects in deregulated markets. 

             Among the issues address in this book are consumer service obligations, constitutional takings jurisprudence, the filed rate doctrine, the dormant commerce clause, state action immunity from antitrust enforcement, and federalism disputes.  Professor Rossi’s book warns against a ‘deference trap’ leading courts to passive roles in conflicts involving political institutions, such as regulatory agencies and states. 

    May 31, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)