Antitrust & Competition Policy Blog

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

A Member of the Law Professor Blogs Network

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Supermarket Competition in Australia

Posted by D. Daniel Sokol

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission will hold a public inquiry into the competitiveness of grocery prices in Australia.  Public submissions are welcomed.

January 26, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, January 25, 2008

The Microsoft Case: The IT industry and the Future of EC Competition Law

Posted by D. Daniel Sokol

The University of Birmingham Institute for European law will host The Microsoft Case: The IT industry and the Future of EC Competition Law.

Conference Programme       

16:00 – 16:30 Registration and coffee            

16:30-16:40 Welcome and introduction
Chair: Dr Luca Rubini (IEL, Birmingham Law School)
Professor Martin Trybus (Director, IEL, Birmingham Law School)            

16:40-18:00 Presentations            

18:00-18:30 Questions and discussion            

18:30 – 19:30 Refreshments

January 25, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

OECD Competition Toolkit

Posted by D. Daniel Sokol

Last month the OECD unveiled its Competition Toolkit to assist agencies to diagnose competition issues in their countries.   This should make for a helpful tool in competition advocacy efforts.

January 25, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Truth or Dare: Leniency and the Fight Against Cartels

Posted by D. Daniel Sokol

A team of economists at Oxera have authored a piece on Truth or Dare: Leniency and the Fight Against Cartels in which they apply experimental economics to the study of collusion.

ABSTRACT: In 2007 one firm involved in the gas-insulated switchgears cartel escaped a potential fine of €215m by alerting the EU’s competition authority to the cartel’s existence. Leniency programmes, where cartel participants that inform and assist the authorities are granted immunity from fines, are a central part of cartel enforcement in competition policy around the world. However, despite having led to many successful cartel investigations, there are still questions concerning their effects. Can the new approach of experimental economics provide some insights?

January 25, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, January 24, 2008

EC Competition Law Highlights of 2007 and Predictions for 2008

Posted by D. Daniel Sokol

The Global Competition Law Centre of the College of Europe, Bruges is sponsoring a conference on EC Competition Law Highlights of 2007 and Predictions for 2008.

Download 30th_lunch_talk_of_the_gclc_registration_form.pdf

January 24, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

The Antitrust Assessment of Loyalty Discounts and Rebates

Posted by D. Daniel Sokol

Gianluca Faella of Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton discusses The Antitrust Assessment of Loyalty Discounts and Rebates in his new working paper.

ABSTRACT: Loyalty discounts lie at the heart of the debate on single firm conduct, probably the most controversial issue in contemporary antitrust practice. Under particular conditions, loyalty discounts may have an exclusionary effect. However, they constitute a classical form of price competition, an effective commercial tool and a way to solve coordination problems in the production chain. In the United States, the fear to lessen price competition has led to a very strong presumption of legality of discounts, provided that they are not predatory or bundled. In the EU, the tendency to induce loyalty, if not a mere intent to exclude rivals, is traditionally deemed to be enough to justify the prohibition of the practice. In the paper, it is submitted that the opposite (almost) per se rules prevailing on the two sides of the Atlantic should be set aside. A detailed analysis, based on a suitable price-cost test and a careful assessment of the impact of the practice on the competitive capacity of minor rivals and on the overall degree of competition in the market concerned, would allow to intervene in cases of seriously exclusionary discount policies, while limiting the unnecessary prohibition of effective forms of price competition.

January 24, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

James O'Connell Apointed Deputy Assistant Attorney General in Charge of International, Policy and Appellate Matters

Posted by D. Daniel Sokol

Congrats to James O'Connell, the new Deputy Assistant Attorney General in charge of International, Policy and Appellate matters for the Antitrust Division.  The press release is here.

January 23, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

FTC Office of International Affairs

Posted by D. Daniel Sokol

The FTC Office of International Affairs is exploring ways to update and improve theirWeb page. As part of this ongoing process, they are asking users of the web page for comments and suggestions on ways to improve the site.

"We are interested in hearing what information currently available on the site is most useful to you, what additional information you would like to have added to the site, and any other suggestions for improving the usefulness of the site.

We value your feedback and would appreciate your comments by February 8, 2008. Please email your comments and suggestions to Isabelle Chiaradia at [email protected]."

January 23, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Request to Our Readers

Posted by D. Daniel Sokol

If you are a reader and have your own blog, could you list us on your blogroll?

January 23, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Giving the German Cartel Office the Power of Divestiture - The Conformity of the Reform with Constitutional Law

Posted by D. Daniel Sokol

Engel Christoph Engel (Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods) provides an interesting normative analysis of German competition law in his piece Giving the German Cartel Office the Power of Divestiture - The Conformity of the Reform with Constitutional Law.

ABSTRACT: Triggered by the concentration process in the electricity and gas markets, the land of Hesse proposes to give the German cartel office power to divest dominant firms or oligopolies if this is necessary to restore competition. The paper shows that the reform would be in line with constitutional law, and with freedom of property in particular. Depending on how divestiture is brought about, it would interfere with this basic freedom. It would however not amount to taking. In practice, the main effect would be through bargaining between the divested company and the cartel office. This poses problems under rule of law, but these problems are not insurmountable. The main justification for the reform is the almost total failure of interventions to combat the abuse of dominant positions. In the US, divestiture has not always been successful. But close scrutiny of the American experiences demonstrates that the tool is sufficiently effective to meet the constitutional standard. If divestiture is brought about by forcing the firm to sell entities or assets, the necessary compensation comes from the price it receives from the buyer.

January 23, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Specialized LLM in Competition/Antitrust Law?

Posted by D. Daniel Sokol

I get a number of requests throughout the year about what universities have specialized LLMs in competition law.  Unfortunately, I do not have an answer.  I invite readers to post about what specialized antitrust/competition law LLMs exist.  Please note that all responses are delayed because due to spam, we need to sift through responses to allow then to be posted.  Otherwise, you would read many posts about increasing the size of various parts of your body.

January 22, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)

2008 International Technical Assistance Workshop: Charting the Future Course of International Technical Assistance at the U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission

Posted by D. Daniel Sokol

The Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission plan to host a one-day workshop on international technical assistance titled  2008 International Technical Assistance Workshop: Charting the Future Course of International Technical Assistance at the U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission. The workshop is open to the public.

Date: The workshop will take place on Wednesday, February 6, 2008.           

Location: The workshop will be held at the Federal Trade Commission Conference Center, 601 New Jersey Avenue NW, Washington, DC.

Report: The Antitrust Division and the Federal Trade Commission intend to produce a report after the workshop, taking into account written submissions, discussion and comments made during the workshop, and other public sources of information.

Contact: For more information, contact the Antitrust Division by e-mail at [email protected] or by telephone at 202-514-2488.

Agenda:

8:30 a.m. Welcome and Introduction

Deborah Platt Majoras, Chairman, Federal Trade Commission

Thomas O. Barnett, Assistant Attorney General, Antitrust Division

   

9:00 a.m. The DOJ-FTC Technical Assistance Program, 1990-2007: Reviewing the First Two Decades

For nearly two decades, the FTC and DOJ have promoted market competition around the world by providing technical assistance, primarily with USAID funding, to new competition agencies and to countries in the process of reforming their markets and adopting competition laws. The agencies have conducted approximately 400 missions to scores of countries on short-term trips and multimonth advisory missions. FTC and DOJ representatives will describe the how the program works, share their varied experiences with competition agencies worldwide, and discuss how to maximize the effectiveness of technical assistance. Competition officials from several countries will discuss technical assistance from the perspective of a recipient and offer valuable suggestions for making the program even better.

Moderator:

Anne Purcell White, Assistant Chief, Foreign Commerce Section, Antitrust Division

Panelists:

Timothy T. Hughes, Counsel for International Technical Assistance, Office of International Affairs, FTC

Craig Conrath, Trial Attorney, Antitrust Division

Elizabeth Schneirov, Bureau of Economics, FTC

Graciela Ortiz, President, Indecopi (Lima, Peru)

Csaba Kovacs, Head of Competition Policy Section, Hungarian Competition Authority

 

10:30 a.m. Break

 

10:45 a.m.  The Expanding Role of Consumer Protection in Developing Legal and Economic Policies Through Technical Assistance

For over a decade, the FTC has provided technical assistance in a variety of topics, to a variety of nations, in a variety of formats. Topics have included institution building, components of effective consumer protection systems, advertising regulation, electronic commerce, and consumer credit. The FTC has delivered this assistance through resident advisors, short-term missions, seminars at international meetings, study tours in the United States, and bilateral contacts (telephone and videoconference). The FTC has also attempted to facilitate the role of other U.S. government consumer agencies in rounding out the assistance effort.

Moderator:
Hugh Stevenson, Deputy Director for Consumer Protection, Office of International Affairs, FTC

Panelists:

Russell Damtoft, Associate Director, Office of International Affairs, FTC

Pablo Zylberglait, Counsel for International Consumer Protection, FTC

Rich O'Brien, Head of International Programs, Consumer Product Safety Commission

Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Representative 

11:45 a.m. World Experience in Delivering Technical Assistance

The DOJ and the FTC have not been alone in thinking about how to most effectively deliver technical assistance to newer competition agencies. The International Competition Network has engaged in a significant project to identify what works well and what does not. Several academic researchers have studied the problem, as has the World Bank and other multilateral organizations. The OECD Competition Committee has provided a unique form of technical assistance around the globe for years. In addition, development agencies from several other jurisdictions fund significant technical assistance efforts. This session will tap into these resources to explore what can be learned from these institutions.

Moderator:

Russell Pittman, Director of Technical Assistance and Economic Research, Antitrust Division

Panelists:

Shyam Khemani, Advisor, Competition Policy, World Bank

Edward Whitehorn, Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)

Alberto Heimler, Central Director for Research and International Affairs, Italian Competition Authority

Anne Purcell White, Assistant Chief, Foreign Commerce Section, Antitrust Division

 

12:45 p.m.  Lunch (provided)

 

1:45 p.m. Perspectives on Antitrust Technical Assistance Needs Across the Globe

In order to optimize agency technical assistance programs, it is first important to understand the primary needs of new agencies and developing economies in the area of competition law and policy. This panel will provide a variety of perspectives on what the greatest needs are overseas, and on how DOJ and FTC can design their missions to best to address those needs. Specific topics to be addressed will include how antitrust technical assistance contributes to economic growth and development, what technical assistance needs are going unmet, setting priorities for technical assistance, the extent to which the needs of a competition agency vary with level of development, and the role of the private sector and other donors in technical assistance. 

Moderator:

Russell Damtoft, Associate Director, Office of International Affairs, FTC

Panelists:

Stan Anderson, Senior Counsel to the President, U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Eleanor M. Fox, Professor, New York University School of Law

James F. Rill, Partner, Howrey LLP

Nicholas S. Klissas, Senior Commercial Law Reform Advisor, USAID Foreign Agency Representative

Russell Pittman, Director of Technical Assistance and Economic Research, Antitrust Division

 

3:00 p.m. Break 

   

3:15 p.m.  Moving Forward: Technical Assistance for the 21st Century

This final interactive roundtable will draw on the wisdom of experts with a variety of perspectives, as well as the rest of the day's discussions, to chart out a course for making future technical assistance missions even more effective. The panel will be moderated by FTC Commissioner Kovacic who will not only share his extensive experience with antitrust technical assistance, but will also aim to develop concrete recommendations that can be implemented by the DOJ and FTC as they design missions to promote competition law and policy in ever farther corners of the globe.

Moderator:

William E. Kovacic, Commissioner, FTC

Panelists:

Andreas Reindl, Adjunct Professor of Law, Fordham Law School

Daniel Sokol, Visiting Associate Professor of Law, University of Missouri School of Law

Mark Whitener, Senior Counsel, Competition Law and Policy, General Electric Company

Georges Korsun, Deloitte Financial Advisory Services, LLP Consumer Protection Expert

 

January 22, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, January 21, 2008

Bundles of Joy: The Ubiquity and Efficiency of Bundles in New Technology Markets

Posted by D. Daniel Sokol

Stan J. Liebowitz, University of Texas at Dallas - Department of Finance & Managerial Economics and Stephen E. Margolis, North Carolina State University - Department of Economics bring us Bundles of Joy: The Ubiquity and Efficiency of Bundles in New Technology Markets.

ABSTRACT: This paper examines the economic logic underlying bundles and tie-in sales and uses the lessons learned from that examination to analyze seven specific instances of bundling that have been the subject of antitrust scrutiny or other policy initiatives. We are particularly interested in products that are non-rivalrous in consumption, making all-you-can-eat pricing a viable candidate for efficiency. Our main economic points are the following: A la carte pricing may populate economic models but most products are bundles; they are bundles because bundles are generally more efficient. Tie-in sales are much less common and, we believe, not properly understood in textbook discussions. Market foreclosure, the principal efficiency concern with tying and bundling, is likely to be exceedingly rare. The seven instances of bundling (ties) examined are: cable television; patent pools; blanket licenses; iPods and iTunes; telephones; music albums and songs; and operating systems and component programs.

January 21, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (1)

Two Tales on Resale

Posted by D. Daniel Sokol

Felix Höffler (Max Planck Institute of Research on Collective Goods) and Klaus M. Schmidt (Ludwig Maximilians University of Munich, Faculty of Economics) provide Two Tales on Resale in their most recent working paper.

ABSTRACT: In some markets vertically integrated firms sell directly to final customers but also to independent downstream firms with whom they then compete on the downstream market. It is often argued that resellers intensify competition and benefit consumers, in particular when wholesale prices are regulated. However, we show that (i) resale may increase prices and make consumers worse off and that (ii) standard "retail minus X regulation" may increase prices and harm consumers. Our analysis suggests that this is more likely if the number of integrated firms is small, the degree of product differentiation is low, and/or if competition is spatial.

January 21, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, January 20, 2008

SSRN Most Downloaded New Antitrust Law & Policy Papers (November 21, 2007 to January 20, 2008)

Posted by D. Daniel Sokol

SSRN Most Downloaded New Antitrust Law & Policy Papers (November 21, 2007 to January 20, 2008)

1.  Supreme Court Amicus Brief of Professors and Scholars in Law and Economics in Support of Certiorari, Pacific Bell Telephone Co. v. linkLine Communications, Inc., No. 07-512 (filed Nov. 16, 2007)
William J. Baumol, Robert H. Bork, Robert W. Crandall, George Daly, Harold Demsetz, Jeffrey A. Eisenach, Kenneth G. Elzinga, Gerald R. Faulhaber, Franklin M. Fisher, Charles John Goetz, Robert W. Hahn, Jerry A. Hausman, Thomas Jorde, Robert E. Litan, Robert E. Litan, Paul W. MacAvoy, J. Gregory Sidak, Pablo T. Spiller, Daniel F. Spulber,
New York University - Stern School of Business - Berkley Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, Author - Affiliation Unknown, Brookings Institution - General, Georgetown University - Robert Emmett McDonough School of Business, University of California, Los Angeles - Department of Economics, Criterion Economics, LLC, University of Virginia - Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania - Management Department, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Economics, University of Virginia - School of Law, AEI-Brookings Joint Center for Regulatory Studies - General, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Economics, University of California, Berkeley - School of Law (Boalt Hall), AEI-Brookings Joint Center for Regulatory Studies, Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, Yale School of Management, Criterion Economics, LLC, University of California, Berkeley - Business & Public Policy Group, Northwestern University - Kellogg School of Management

2.  Rethinking Antitrust Law in an Age of Network Industries
George L. Priest,
Yale Law School

3.  The Roberts Court and the Chicago School of Antitrust: The 2006 Term and Beyond
Joshua D. Wright,
George Mason University - School of Law

4.  The Quiet Revolution in U.S. Antitrust Law
George Alan Hay,
Cornell University - School of Law

5.  Antitrust Vertical Myopia: The Allure of High Prices
Barak Y. Orbach,
University of Arizona

6. Leegin Creative Leather Products, Inc. v. PSKS, Inc.: The Strange Career of the Law of Resale Price Maintenance
Lino A. Graglia
University of Texas at Austin School of Law

7. The Elusive Antitrust Standard on Bundling in Europe and in the United States at the Aftermath of the Microsoft Cases
Nicholas Economides, Ioannis Lianos,
New York University - Stern School of Business, Faculty of Laws, University College London

8.  Free Riding: An Overstated, and Unconvincing, Explanation for Resale Price Maintenance
Marina Lao,
Seton Hall School of Law

9. Global Antitrust Prosecutions of International Cartels: Focus on Asia
John M. Connor,
Purdue University

January 20, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Competition, Regulation and Development Research Forum Call for Papers

Posted by D. Daniel Sokol

CUTS invite submission of theoretical, empirical and policy-oriented research papers for the second research cycle of the biennial Competition, Regulation and Development Research Forum (CDRF).

The theme for the second cycle is ‘Institutional Issues covering Political Economy and Governance Constraints in Implementing Competition and Regulatory Regimes in the Developing World’.

We invite you to submit paper on the following research area: Protection of Public Interest vis-à-vis Promotion of Efficient Markets

How to submit: Prospective authors are requested to first submit abstracts with some methodological details for their paper for consideration as per the guidelines for authors (http://www.circ.in/CDRF-auth_guide02.htm).

The deadline for submission of abstract is 5th February 2008.

January 20, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)