Monday, April 19, 2021
There is no such thing as an ‘antitrust market’. Markets are merely analytical tools, which serve to structure available evidence and enable a comprehensive answer to a particular question. They do not exist as such in the real world but are figments of our intellectual imagination. In that capacity, they can be immensely useful. A pursuit of objectivity in the process of product market definition remains in vain as long as we fail to acknowledge that the utility of antitrust markets lies precisely in their reductive and purposive nature. This article makes two main arguments. The first argument is simple, yet far-reaching: antitrust market definition is useful because it is a method to enable the answer to a question. The implication is that the market is defined by reference to that particular question, rather than as an independent and neutral object. Market definition is ‘purposive’. In the context of competition investigations, this question can concern, but does not have to be limited to, determinations of market power. The second argument is that market definition, even though purposive, does not need to be subjective. Objectivity in market definition can be achieved by aspiring to process objectivity, rather than to objective outcomes.