Antitrust & Competition Policy Blog

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

A Member of the Law Professor Blogs Network

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Cartel Detection And The Use Of Screens To Uncover Price Conspiracies

Posted by D. Daniel Sokol

Cartel Detection And The Use Of Screens To Uncover Price Conspiracies

 

Introduction:

The use of screens has been integral in cartel detection, but also has a very meaningful place in cartel prevention and defense. This briefing room starts by reviewing the way screens, as well as other detection tools, are used in practice to uncover pricing conspiracies and to determine whether collusion is present in a specific market. Leading off this discussion in the form of an engaging webinar series will be a panel of knowledgeable experts widely recognized as the premier thought leaders in the subject. This first webinar, to be held on May 22nd, will be a nuanced overview of cartel detection headlined by guest editor Rosa Abrantes-Metz (GlobalEcon, NYU Stern School of Business), Antonio Capobianco (OECD), Carlos Mena-Labarthe (Federal Competition Commission of Mexico), and Carlos Ragazzo (Administrative Council for Economic Defense, Brazil). It will be moderated by David S. Evans (GlobalEcon, University of Chicago Law School).

We then turn our focus to a robust webinar discussion on the value of screens in cartel prevention and the
creative usage of screens on the defense side. This second webinar, held a week after the first on May 28th, will feature guest editor Rosa Abrantes-Metz (GlobalEcon, NYU Stern School of Business), Kai Huschelrath (ZEW), Donald C. Klawiter (Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP), Daniel Sokol (Levin College of Law at the University of Florida). This will also be moderated by David S. Evans (GlobalEcon, University of Chicago Law School).

REGISTER NOW

About the Experts:

 

Rosa Abrantes-Metz is a principal in the antitrust,
securities and financial regulation practices of Global Economics Group and an
Adjunct Associate Professor at NYU's Stern School of Business. She is the author
of several articles on econometric methods and screens and flagged the LIBOR
conspiracy in 2008. Her work is regularly featured in the media.
Antonio Capobianco is responsible for proceedings of
the Working Party No. 3 of the OECD Competition Committee, Working Party on
International Co-operation and Competition Law Enforcement. In this position, Mr
Capobianco was responsible for a series of projects and work streams, including
the development of the 2009 Guidelines for Fighting Bid Rigging in Public
Procurement.
Kai Hüschelrath is head of the research group
“Competition and Regulation” at ZEW (Center for European Economic Research). And
Assistant Professor of Industrial Organization and Competitive Strategy at WHU
Otto Beisheim School of Management in Vallender.
Don
Klawiter
is a partner at Sheppard Mullin in Washington, DC.. His
practice focuses on antitrust investigations and litigation with a special
emphasis on international cartel matters. In 2005-2006, he served as Chair of
the ABA Section of Antitrust Law. Recently, he served as Co-Chair of the Section
of Antitrust Law’s Presidential Transition Report Task Force, which made
recommendations to the Antitrust Division and FTC on enforcement policy and
procedures.
Carlos Mena-Labarthe is head of cartel investigations
at the Federal Competition Commission of Mexico (CFC). Prior to his joining the
Mexican competition authority he worked for national and international law firms
including Basham, Ringe y Correa; Barrera, Siqueiros y Torres Landa and Haynes
and Boone. He teaches Competition Law, Regulation and Public Policy at graduate
and postgraduate level at ITAM.
Carlos Ragazzo is General Superintendent of Brazil’s
competition authority, CADE. Before joining CADE he was a Lawyer for Pinheiro
Net Avogados and worked as a trainee at the US's FTC. He was general coordinator
of antitrust at the Secretariat of Economic Monitoring in the Ministry of
Finance. He is currently an Adjunct Professor of Antitrust Law in Rio de Janeiro
at Gertulio Vargas.
Daniel Sokol is an Associate Professor of Law at
University of Florida’s Levin College of Law. He has provided technical
assistance and capacity building to antitrust agencies and utilities regulators
from around the world. He is a co-editor of the book series Global
Competition Law and Economics
.
David S. Evans is Chairman of Global Economics Group
and Lecturer, University of Chicago Law School. Evans is the co-author with
Professor Abrantes-Metz of a widely discussed proposal for replacing LIBOR.

May 25, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Pro-Business and Anti-Efficiency: How Conservative Procedural “Innovations” Have Made Litigation Slower, More Expensive, and Less Efficient

Posted by D. Daniel Sokol

J. Douglas Richards & Michael B. Eisenkraft (Cohen Milstein) discuss Pro-Business and Anti-Efficiency: How Conservative Procedural “Innovations” Have Made Litigation Slower, More Expensive, and Less Efficient.

ABSTRACT: As detailed in a recent popular book by Jacob Hacker & Paul Pierson, recent decades have brought to America a well-orchestrated political campaign to favor the economic interests of large corporations over those victimized by torts and other wrongful corporate acts. Hallmarks of that campaign have included propagandistic messaging from the United States Chamber of Commerce and others about such supposedly widespread phenomena as "nuisance suits," "frivolous litigation," "class action abuse," "hydraulic pressure to settle," and the like. The Chamber of Commerce has even gone so far as to release multiple movie trailers, for exhibition in connection with feature films, which consisted largely of propaganda about "costly and frivolous" lawsuits.

Respected commentators who have scrutinized these claims about the litigation process have generally found them to possess little or no factual foundation. For example, Professor Arthur Miller observed "the picture generally portrayed is incomplete and is distorted by a lack of definition and empirical data regarding the alleged negative aspects of federal litigation. This generates rhetoric that often reflects ideology or economic self-interest, rather than reality." Other academic observers have made similar observations.

May 25, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, May 24, 2013

Antitrust as facilitating factor for collusion

Posted by D. Daniel Sokol

Iwan Bos, Wilko Letterie, and Dries Vermeulen (all Maastricht University) analyze Antitrust as facilitating factor for collusion.

ABSTRACT: We study collusion in an infinitely repeated prisoners' dilemma when firms' discount factor is private information. If tacit collusion is not feasible, firms that are capable of sustaining high prices may still be willing and able to collude explicitly. Firms eager to collude may signal their intentions when forming the agreement is costly, but not too costly. As antitrust makes explicit collusion costly in expected terms, it may in fact function as a signaling device. We show that there always exists a cost level for which explicit collusion is viable. Moreover, our analysis suggests that antitrust enforcement is unable to fully deter collusion.

May 24, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sensible Discovery: Effective Strategies to Streamline the Discovery Process and Save Clients’ Money

Posted by D. Daniel Sokol

Robert Corp & Chul Pak (Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati) explore Sensible Discovery: Effective Strategies to Streamline the Discovery Process and Save Clients’ Money.

ABSTRACT: Defending private antitrust litigation can be a pricey undertaking, the result of several factors. The nature of the allegations often prompts courts to allow plaintiffs to engage in broad discovery that can cost a company millions and, given the typically high-stakes nature of antitrust matters, the defending companies have no choice but to invest significant resources to respond. Plaintiffs litigate these cases aggressively, particularly class-action lawyers, pushing prices further upwards. Antitrust cases often span a number of years, with millions of documents collected, produced, and reviewed. The recent explosion in electronic document generation and storage has significantly increased the litigation expenses.

With these daunting cost pressures, controlling discovery costs is an essential function of outside counsel and, fortunately, there are effective ways that can help reduce the litigation costs. A key theme running through each of these strategies is that they occur early in the case, as topics perhaps considered mundane or procedural can determine whether costs will eventually spiral out of control.

May 24, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Excessive supplier pricing and high-quality foreclosure

Posted by D. Daniel Sokol

Martin Obradovits (University of Vienna - Economics) has written on Excessive supplier pricing and high-quality foreclosure.

ABSTRACT: This article shows that entry of a more input-effcient, but lower quality downstream producer, compared to a high-quality downstream incumbent, might be detrimental to social welfare. In particular, if the entrant is extremely ecient, a monopolist upstream supplier reacts by charging an excessive price, driving the high-quality incumbent out of the market and reducing social welfare. However, despite the entrant's low input requirement, the supplier's profit increases for all but the most effcient entrant technologies. Enabling the supplier to engage in third degree price discrimination may increase social welfare.

May 24, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Cost inefficiency and Optimal Market Structure in Spatial Cournot Discrimination

Posted by D. Daniel Sokol

Ricardo Biscaia (CIPES - Centro de Investigacao de Politicas de Ensino Superior), Paula Sarmento (FEP - Faculdade de Economia do Porto) discuss Cost inefficiency and Optimal Market Structure in Spatial Cournot Discrimination.

ABSTRACT: This paper analyzes the location patterns of firms in Cournot spatial discrimination setting. The innovation step is that firms are allowed to have different marginal costs of the production. When analyzing the two-stage location-quantity game, we conclude that firms choose the central agglomeration outcome whatever the marginal cost difference between them. When maximizing social welfare, the social planner chooses the central location for both firms as well if the marginal cost differences are not too big. When allowed to decide if the inefficient firm should be in the market or not, the social planner removes the inefficient firm from the market if its cost is too high.

May 24, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Fixed-Mobile Integration

Posted by D. Daniel Sokol

Steffen Hoernig (Nova School of Business and Economics, Lisbon, Portugal), Marc Bourreau (Telecom ParisTech, Department of Economics and Social Sciences), and Carlo Cambini (Politecnico di Torino, DIGEP) analyze Fixed-Mobile Integration.

ABSTRACT: Often, fixed-line incumbents also own the largest mobile network. We consider the effect of this joint ownership on market outcomes. Our model predicts that while fixed-to-mobile call prices to the integrated mobile network are more efficient than under separation, those to rival mobile networks are distorted upwards, amplifying any incumbency advantage. As concerns potential remedies, a uniform off-net pricing constraint leads to higher welfare than functional separation and even allows to maintain some of the efficiency gains.

May 23, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

International Cooperation at the Antitrust Division: A View from the Trenches

Posted by D. Daniel Sokol

Patricia Brink, Director of Civil Enforcement (DOJ Antitrust) has given a speech on International Cooperation at the Antitrust Division: A View from the Trenches.

May 23, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

A Cost-Cutting Solution to the Discovery Burdens of Antitrust Disputes

Posted by D. Daniel Sokol

James Bo Pearl & J. Hardy Ehlers (O’Melveny & Myers) offer A Cost-Cutting Solution to the Discovery Burdens of Antitrust Disputes.

ABSTRACT: Litigating an antitrust case has always been a costly endeavor for all parties involved. Just in the last 30 years, sprawling cases such as Microsoft, Intel, and price-fixing cases involving LCDs, vitamins, and memory have chewed up hundreds of millions of dollars in fees and expert costs. There are myriad reasons for the staggering expense: The scope of these cases often comprises all aspects of a defendants' business, a searching inquiry of the relevant markets at issue, and battles between pricey economists who conduct vast econometric market studies to support their side's view of the case. And while the unrelenting explosion of electronic data has affected all litigation segments to some extent, it has impacted antitrust litigation in a particularly profound way. Rapidly expanding discovery costs now force settlements in situations where, in the past, defendants might make the pragmatic business decision to litigate when they believed they did nothing wrong.

The costs do not impact only defendants. Plaintiffs' lawyers who in the past may have worked a case from the ground up may be more hesitant to invest in a multi-year discovery battle. Such attorneys may be more likely to simply trail government investigations in which a plea deal portends a higher likelihood of a success.

As it stands now, the law is not well situated to rein in the mushrooming discovery costs.

May 23, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Re-examining the Effects of Switching Costs

Posted by D. Daniel Sokol

Andrew Rhodes (Oxford) is Re-examining the Effects of Switching Costs.

ABSTRACT: Consumers often incur costs when switching from one product to another. Recently there has been renewed debate within the literature about whether these switching costs lead to higher prices. We build a theoretical model of dynamic competition and solve it analytically for a wide range of switching costs. We provide a simple condition which determines whether switching costs raise or lower long-run prices. We also show that switching costs are more likely to increase prices in the short-run. Finally switching costs redistribute surplus across time, and as such are shown to sometimes increase consumer welfare.

May 23, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Measuring Unilateral Effects in Partial Acquisitions

Posted by D. Daniel Sokol

Duarte Brito, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Ricardo Ribeiroz, Universidade Catolica Portuguesa and Helder Vasconcelos, Faculdade de Economia do Porto are Measuring Unilateral Effects in Partial Acquisitions.

ABSTRACT: Recent years have witnessed an increased interest, by competition agencies, in assessing the competitive effects of partial acquisitions. We propose an empirical structural methodology to examine quantitatively the unilateral impact of partial acquisitions involving pure financial interests and/or effective corporate control on prices, market shares,firm profits and consumer welfare. The proposed methodology can deal with differentiated products industries, with both direct and indirect partial ownership interests and nests full mergers (100% financial and control acquisitions) as a special case. We provide an empirical application to several acquisitions in the wet shaving industry.

May 23, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Bohannan wins 2013 Mark T. Banner Award

Posted by D. Daniel Sokol

The 2013 Mark T. Banner Award of the ABA Section of Intellectual Property Law has been awarded to Christina Bohannan (Iowa Law). Christina writes on IP and competition, among other topics.

The Mark T. Banner Award is

conferred annually to an individual or group who has advanced the practice, profession and/or substance of intellectual property law through extraordinary contributions in areas such as teaching, scholarship, innovation, legislation, advocacy, bar or other association activities, or the judiciary.

 

Kudos to Christina - a first rate scholar.

May 22, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Competition and Growth: Reinterpreting their Relationship

Posted by D. Daniel Sokol

Daria Onori (Aix-Marseille University) explores Competition and Growth: Reinterpreting their Relationship.

ABSTRACT: In this paper we modify a standard quality ladder model by assuming that R&D is driven by outsider firms and the winners of the race sell licenses over their patents, instead of entering directly the intermediate good sector. As a reward they get the aggregate profit of the industry. Moreover, in the intermediate good sector firms compete a la Cournot and it is assumed that there are spillovers represented by strategic complementarities on costs. We prove that there exists an interval of values of the spillover parameter such that the relationship between competition and growth is an inverted-U-shape.

May 22, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Search Costs, Demand-Side Economies and the Incentives to Merge under Bertrand Competition

Posted by D. Daniel Sokol

Jose L. Moraga-Gonzalez and Vaiva Petrikaite analyze Search Costs, Demand-Side Economies and the Incentives to Merge under Bertrand Competition.

ABSTRACT: We study the incentives to merge in a Bertrand competition model where firms sell differentiated products and consumers search sequentially for satisfactory deals. In the pre-merger symmetric equilibrium, consumers visit firmsrandomly. However, after a merger, because insiders raise their prices more than the outsiders, consumers start searching for good deals at the non-merging stores, and only when they do not find a satisfactory product there they visit the merging firms. As search costs go up, consumer traffic from the non-merging firms to the merged ones decreases and eventually mergers become unprofitable. This new merger paradox can be overcome if the merged entity chooses to stock each of its stores with all the products of the constituent firms, which generates sizable search economies. We show that such demand-side economies can confer the merging firms a prominent position in the marketplace, in which case their price may even be lower than the price of the non-merging firms. In that situation, consumers start searching for a satisfactory good at the merged entity and the firms outside the merger lose out. When search economies are sufficiently large, a merger is beneficial for consumers too, and overall welfare increases.

May 22, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Cartel stability and profits under different reactions to entry in markets with growing demand

Posted by D. Daniel Sokol

Joao Correia-da-Silva (CEF.UP e Faculdade de Economia do Porto), Joana Pinho (CEF.UP e Faculdade de Economia do Porto) and Helder Vasconcelos (ANACOM) discuss Cartel stability and profits under different reactions to entry in markets with growing demand.

ABSTRACT: We study sustainability of collusion with optimal penal codes, in markets where demand growth may trigger the entry of a new firm. In contrast with grim trigger strategies, optimal penal codes make collusion easier to sustain before entry than after. We compare different reactions of the incumbents to entry in terms of: sustainability of collusion, incumbent’s profits, entrant’s profits, consumer surplus and social welfare. Surprisingly, the incumbent firms may prefer competition to collusion.

May 22, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Intellectual Property Rights in Competition Law: Compulsory License Issues in Developing Countries

Posted by D. Daniel Sokol

Marie D. Mesidor, National Institute of Industrial Property describes Intellectual Property Rights in Competition Law: Compulsory License Issues in Developing Countries.

ABSTRACT: The aim of this article is to contribute to the debate on the interplay between intellectual property (patents) and competition law. It examines compulsory licenses for patents under competition law. It looks at the principles and doctrines applied, particularly for public interest; relevant cases in the EU and US courts; as well as the situation in certain developing countries. This paper considers the cases in Brazil and, in particular, South Africa. It is argued herein that developing countries may benefit from US and EU experiences in patent-related competition law cases to the extent that they promote policies adapted to domestic needs. Finally, it explores application of the TRIPS Agreement Article 31(k) to facilitate access to medicines in developing countries and certain implementation questions that may arise.

May 22, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Buyer Power in Conglomerate Acquisitions

Posted by D. Daniel Sokol

Daniel Greene, Georgia State University - Department of Finance, Omesh Kini, Georgia State University and Jaideep Shenoy, Tulane University - Department of Finance discuss Buyer Power in Conglomerate Acquisitions.

ABSTRACT: There is a burgeoning literature in financial economics that finds evidence consistent with buyer power in horizontal acquisitions. The possibility that conglomerate acquisitions can also result in increased buyer power has, however, received no attention in academic circles or from regulators. The bidder and target firms in a conglomerate acquisition can source their inputs from common supplier industries and, therefore, the combination can result in a larger entity with increased bargaining power vis-à-vis these supplier industries. We construct a proxy for the increase in buyer power achieved by merging firms in conglomerate acquisitions using the benchmark input-output tables for the U.S. economy. We find that an increase in buyer power is significantly positively related to the combined wealth effect of the merging firms and significantly negatively related to the wealth effect of supplier firms around conglomerate acquisition announcements. We document a significant decrease in output prices for supplier industries that are most likely to be affected by the increased buyer power of the merging firms. Finally, consistent with lower input prices in deals in which there is a larger increase in buyer power, we find that the post-acquisition decrease in cogs-to-sales is higher for merging firms with greater increase in buyer power. Overall, our battery of tests provides consistent evidence in support of the buyer power hypothesis in the context of conglomerate acquisitions.

May 21, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

When the State Harms Competition ― The Role for Competition Law

Posted by D. Daniel Sokol

Eleanor M. Fox, New York University School of Law and Deborah Healey, University of New South Wales (UNSW) - Faculty of Law offer an interesting new work When the State Harms Competition ― The Role for Competition Law.

ABSTRACT: This article is about the reach of antitrust laws to proscribe or override anticompetitive acts and measures of the states. While it was once the case that antitrust (or competition) laws were reserved for private restraints, a more modern view of the state and the market recognizes the integral relationship between them. The authors surveyed 32 jurisdictions and found that antitrust/competition laws of a number of jurisdictions condemned certain state acts and measures. This article describes and summarizes the research and combines the research findings with conceptual analysis to recommend relevant rules and principles that might be adopted as recommended principles and included in a model modern competition law.

May 21, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

7th International IMEDIPA Conference on Competition Law and Policy

Posted by D. Daniel Sokol

7th International IMEDIPA Conference on Competition Law and Policy Friday, June 7, 2013 at 9:00 AM - Saturday, June 8, 2013 at 5:15 PM (EEST) Athens, Greece

IMEDIPA

invites you to its 7th International Conference on Competition Law and Policy

(Athens, 2013)

Conference Programme

 

Day 1: Friday, June 7th, 2013

 

8:30 Registration 

9:00– 9:45 Introduction

Dimitrios Kyritsakis (Chairman, Hellenic Competition Commission)

Harry Kyriazis (Executive vice-chairman, SEV [Hellenic Federation of Enterprises])

Ioannis Lianos (IMEDIPA, UCL, ENA)

 

9:45 – 11:30 Session 1 Recent Developments in Competition Law/Restructuring, Competition Law and the State I

Chair: Dimitris Tzouganatos (University of Athens)

Speakers

Paris Anestis (Hogan Lovells, Brussels)

Christos Genakos (University of Economics and Business)

Ioannis Kokkoris (IMEDIPA, University of Reading)

Assimakis Komninos (White & Case, Brussels, IMEDIPA, UCL)

Constantinos Lambadarios (Lambadarios Law Firm, Athens)

Xenofon Paparrigopoulos (Potamitis Vekris, Athens)

 

11:30 – 12:00 Break

 

12:00 – 13:45 Session 2 Recent developments in Competition Law/Restructuring, Competition Law and the State

Chair: Ian Forrester (White and Case, Brussels)

Speakers

Konstantinos Adamantopoulos (Holman Fenwick Willan, Brussels)

Emmanuel Dryllerakis (Dryllerakis & Associates, Athens)

Gönenç Gükaynak (ELİG, Istanbul)

Vassilis Karagiannis (KLC Law Firm, Athens)

Lefkothea Nteka (Hellenic Competition Commission)

 

13:45 – 15:00 Lunch

 

15:00 – 16:30 Session 3 Recent developments in Competition Law

Chair: Giorgos Triantafillakis (Democritus University of Thrace)

Speakers

Anastasios Antoniou (Anastasios Antoniou LLC, Nicosia)

Stamatis Drakakakis (Koutalidis Law Firm, Athens)

Anastasia Dritsa (KGDI Law Firm, Athens)

Victoria Mertikopoulou (Hellenic Competition Commission)

 

16:30 – 17:00 Break

 

17:00 – 18:45 Session 4 Roundtable of Competition and Regulatory Authorities

Chair: Ioannis Lianos (IMEDIPA, UCL)

Speakers

Alla Budman (Israel Antitrust Authority)

Alexey Ivanov (Skolkovo Foundation, Moscow)

Dimitris Loukas (Hellenic Competition Commission)

Sheldon Mills (UK Office of Fair Trading)

Valentin Mircea (Romanian Competition Council)

Evren Sesli (Turkish Competition Authority)

Howard Shelanski (US Federal Trade Commission)

 

Day 2: Saturday, June 8th, 2013

 

10:00 – 11:30 Session 5 Procedural aspects of competition law enforcement (human rights, rights of defense, due process)

Chair: Assimakis Komninos (White & Case, Brussels, IMEDIPA, UCL)

Speakers

Michal Gal (University of Haifa Law School)

Judge Douglas Ginsburg (US DC Circuit Court of Appeals; NYU Law School)

Denis Waelbroeck (Ashurst, Brussels)

Mihalis Vilaras (former Judge, General Court of the EU) TBC

 

11:30 – 12:00 Break

 

12:00 – 13:15 Session 6 Anticompetitive foreclosure (antitrust, merger control, electricity regulation)

Chair: Ioannis Kokkoris (IMEDIPA, University of Reading)

Speakers

Muzaffer Eroglu (Kocaeli University Faculty of Law, Istanbul)

Kyriakos Fountoukakos (Herbert Smith)

Sheldon Mills (UK Office of Fair Trading)

Valentin Mircea (Romanian Competition Council)

Samil Pismaf (Turkish Competition Authority)

Howard Shelanski (US Federal Trade Commission)

 

13:15 -14:00 Lunch

 

14:00 – 15:30 Session 7 Damages, Remedies, Private Law Consequences for anticompetitive practices and corporate compliance

Chair: Ioannis Lianos (IMEDIPA, UCL, ENA)

Speakers

Daniele Calisti (European Commission, DG COMP)

Kerem Cem Sanlı (İstanbul Bilgi University Faculty of Law)

Herbert Hovenkamp (University of Iowa Law School)

Spyros Mello (Coca Cola Hellenic)

Gregory Pelecanos (Ballas, Pelecanos & Associates LPC, Athens)

Fevzi Toksoy (Actecon Consultancy, İstanbul)

 

15:30 - 16:00 Break

 

16:00 – 17.15 Session 8 Evidence matters in competition law: between law and economics

Chair: Howard Shelanski (US Federal Trade Commission)

Speakers

Ioannis Lianos (IMEDIPA, UCL, ENA)

Nicolas Petit (University of Liege)

Cleomenis Yannikas (Dryllerakis & Associates)

 

17:15 Conclusions and end of the Conference

 

With the exception of panel 3 all other panels are in English. No translation is provided.

May 21, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

'Neutral' Search as a Basis for Antitrust Action?

Posted by D. Daniel Sokol

Marina Lao (Seton Hall) asks 'Neutral' Search as a Basis for Antitrust Action?

ABSTRACT: The Federal Trade Commission recently voted unanimously to close its antitrust investigation into Google’s search practices after concluding that the firm’s practice of favoring its own content in its search results did not violate U.S. antitrust laws. The agency determined that, although the practice (often called “search bias”) may have an incidental negative impact on some competitors, it was a product improvement that likely benefited consumers. Additionally, it concluded that Google did not selectively change its search algorithm to exclude competition, and any disadvantage to competing websites was the collateral result of changes that likely improved the quality of Google searches.

By declining to bring a case after determining that Google did not manipulate its search algorithms and search results pages to target particular competitors or to thwart competition, the FTC seemed to have implicitly rejected the notion that Google has a duty to adopt search “neutrality,” as some have advocated. Search neutrality is generally understood to mean that a search engine should not prefer its own content in search results unless its own content is “objectively” superior to competing content based on the use of a “neutral” search algorithm.

I suggest, in this essay, that the FTC’s decision was correct. It is difficult to build an antitrust case (against any major search engine) around the notion of search neutrality for several reasons: first, search is inherently subjective and it is unclear what would constitute a “neutral” standard or algorithm, and who would or should have the right to make that judgment; second, there appears to be no identifiable antitrust theory of liability that would require neutral search, and the paper analyzes the essential facilities doctrine to explain why it is a poor fit; and third, any remedy imposing some form of neutral search is likely to be more harmful to consumers than the incidental exclusionary effects that the remedy is supposed to correct.

May 21, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)