Following the Federal Trade Commission’s 2021 publication of “Nixing the Fix: An FTC Report to Congress on Repair Restrictions,” private “right to repair” cases have multiplied against companies that leverage their market power in a “primary equipment market” (e.g., tractors) to force their customers also to purchase their offerings in “aftermarkets” (e.g., tractor repairs) that otherwise would be competitive. Daniel McCuaig argues that the application of the 1992 Supreme Court decision in Eastman Kodak Co. v. Image Technical Services, Inc. to these cases misunderstands that case and improperly shields monopolists from competitive pressures, including in Epic’s recent case against Apple.
Three artificial intelligence experts at the University of Chicago disclose the trends and issues regarding AI that they'll be watching for in 2024.
The European Union’s Digital Markets Act (DMA), designed to regulate Big Tech, supplements current antitrust laws that pursue case-by-case analyses of business conduct with general rules to block potentially anticompetitive behaviors. Detractors criticize the DMA for its lack of nuance. Supporters applaud its general principles as a necessary bulwark against Big Tech’s market powers, which current case-by-case analysis has been unable to rein in. However, neither side appreciates the true complexity of the DMA or how its principles interact to prevent anticompetitive behavior, writes Alba Ribera Martínez.
Large digital platforms have evolved into vast multimarket/multiproduct conglomerates, both organically and through a decade-long acquisition spree. Conduct and mergers can no longer be evaluated “market-by-market.” Yet the antitrust assessment of these “ecosystems” is still in its infancy, and regulators seeking to explore harm arising from the control of multiple assets and capabilities are falling back on traditional theories of harm that are more likely to resonate with judges. Substantive progress is unlikely to emerge spontaneously from consultants or academia, and regulators will need to harness interest in this space by motivating and coordinating relevant policy research, argues Cristina Caffarra.
In light of the rise of generative artificial intelligence (AI) and recent debates about the socio-political implications of large-language models and chatbots, Manuel Wörsdörfer analyzes the strengths and weaknesses of the European Union’s Artificial Intelligence Act (AIA), the world’s first comprehensive attempt by a government body to address and mitigate the potential negative impacts of AI technologies. He recommends areas where the AIA could be improved.
Joshua Gray and Cristian Santesteban argue that the Federal Trade Commission's focus in Meta-Within and Microsoft-Activision on narrow markets like VR fitness apps and consoles missed the boat on the real competition issue: the threat to future competition in nascent markets like VR platforms and cloud gaming.
Recent European digital regulation surrenders traditional key guideposts of European competition law and policy. The over-centralization of European Union antitrust authority and EU legislation risks undermining member state laws and competences. This may privilege platforms and eventually harm competition and consumers, writes Jörg Hoffmann.
Friso Bostoen’s new book, Abuse of Platform Power: Leveraging Conduct in Digital Markets under EU Competition Law and Beyond, outlines how antitrust agencies and policymakers should tackle market power in the platform economy. The following is an adaptation of the book’s introduction.