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Digital Cluster Markets, Herbert J. Hovenkamp Apr 2021

Digital Cluster Markets, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

This paper considers the role of “cluster” markets in antitrust litigation, the minimum requirements for recognizing such markets, and the relevance of network effects in identifying them.

One foundational requirement of markets in antitrust cases is that they consist of products that are very close substitutes for one another. Even though markets are nearly always porous, this principle is very robust in antitrust analysis and there are few deviations.

Nevertheless, clustering noncompeting products into a single market for purposes of antitrust analysis can be valuable, provided that its limitations are understood. Clustering contributes to market power when (1) many customers ...


Vertical Control, Herbert J. Hovenkamp Mar 2021

Vertical Control, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Antitrust litigation often requires courts to consider challenges to vertical “control.” How does a firm injure competition by limiting the behavior of vertically related firms? Competitive injury includes harm to consumers, labor, or other suppliers from reduced output and higher margins.

Historically antitrust considers this issue by attempting to identify a market that is vertically related to the defendant, and then consider what portion of it is “foreclosed” by the vertical practice. There are better mechanisms for identifying competitive harm, including a more individualized look at how the practice injures the best placed firms or bears directly on a firm ...


The Looming Crisis In Antitrust Economics, Herbert J. Hovenkamp Jan 2021

The Looming Crisis In Antitrust Economics, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

As in so many areas of law and politics in the United States, antitrust’s center is at bay. It is besieged by a right wing that wants to limit antitrust even more than it has been limited over the last quarter century. On the left, it faces revisionists who propose significantly greater enforcement.

One thing the two extremes share, however, is denigration of the role of economics in antitrust analysis. On the right, the Supreme Court’s two most recent antitrust decisions at this writing reveal that economic analysis no longer occupies the central role that it once had ...


Due Process In Antitrust Enforcement: Normative And Comparative Perspectives, Christopher S. Yoo, Yong Huang, Thomas Fetzer, Shan Jiang Dec 2020

Due Process In Antitrust Enforcement: Normative And Comparative Perspectives, Christopher S. Yoo, Yong Huang, Thomas Fetzer, Shan Jiang

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Due process in antitrust enforcement has significant implications for better professional and accurate enforcement decisions. Not only can due process spur economic growth, raise government credibility, and limit the abuse of powers according to law, it also promotes competitive reforms in monopolized sectors and curbs corruption. Jurisdictions learn from the best practices in the investigation process, decisionmaking process, and the announcement and judicial review of antitrust enforcement decisions. By comparing the enforcement policies of China, the European Union, and the United States, this article calls for better disclosure of evidence, participation of legal counsel, and protection of the procedural and ...


Antitrust And Platform Monopoly, Herbert J. Hovenkamp Nov 2020

Antitrust And Platform Monopoly, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Are large digital platforms that deal directly with consumers “winner take all,” or natural monopoly, firms? That question is surprisingly complex and does not produce the same answer for every platform. The closer one looks at digital platforms the less they seem to be winner-take-all. As a result, competition can be made to work in most of them. Further, antitrust enforcement, with its accommodation of firm variety, is generally superior to any form of statutory regulation that generalizes over large numbers.

Assuming that an antitrust violation is found, what should be the remedy? Breaking up large firms subject to extensive ...


Is The Digital Economy Too Concentrated?, Jonathan Klick Nov 2020

Is The Digital Economy Too Concentrated?, Jonathan Klick

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Concentration in the digital economy in the United States has sparked loud criticism and spurred calls for wide-ranging reforms. These reforms include everything from increased enforcement of existing antitrust laws, such as challenging more mergers and breaking up firms, to an abandonment of the consumer welfare standard. Critics cite corruption and more systemic public choice problems, while others invoke the populist origins of antitrust to slay the digital Goliaths. On the other side, there is skepticism regarding these arguments. This chapter continues much of that skepticism.


Network Effects In Action, Christopher S. Yoo Nov 2020

Network Effects In Action, Christopher S. Yoo

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

This Chapter begins by examining and exploring the theoretical and empirical limits of the possible bases of network effects, paying particular attention to the most commonly cited framework known as Metcalfe’s Law. It continues by exploring the concept of network externalities, defined as the positive external consumption benefits that the decision to join a network creates for the other members of the network, which is more ambiguous than commonly realized. It then reviews the structural factors needed for models based on network effects to have anticompetitive effects and identifies other factors that can dissipate those effects. Finally, it identifies ...


Competitive Harm From Vertical Mergers, Herbert J. Hovenkamp Oct 2020

Competitive Harm From Vertical Mergers, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

The antitrust enforcement Agencies' 2020 Vertical Merger Guidelines introduce a nontechnical application of bargaining theory into the assessment of competitive effects from vertical acquisitions. The economics of such bargaining is complex and can produce skepticism among judges, who might regard its mathematics as overly technical, its game theory as excessively theoretical or speculative, or its assumptions as unrealistic.

However, we have been there before. The introduction of concentration indexes, particularly the HHI, in the Merger Guidelines was initially met with skepticism but gradually they were accepted as judges became more comfortable with them. The same thing very largely happened again ...


Antitrust: What Counts As Consumer Welfare?, Herbert J. Hovenkamp Jul 2020

Antitrust: What Counts As Consumer Welfare?, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Antitrust’s consumer welfare principle is accepted in some form by the entire Supreme Court and the majority of other writers. However, it means different things to different people. For example, some members of the Supreme Court can simultaneously acknowledge the antitrust consumer welfare principle even as they approve practices that result in immediate, obvious, and substantial consumer harm. At the same time, however, a properly defined consumer welfare principle is essential if antitrust is to achieve its statutory purpose, which is to pursue practices that injure competition. The wish to make antitrust a more general social justice statute is ...


House Judiciary Inquiry Into Competition In Digital Markets: Statement, Herbert J. Hovenkamp Apr 2020

House Judiciary Inquiry Into Competition In Digital Markets: Statement, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

This is a response to a query from the Judiciary Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives, requesting my views about the adequacy of existing antitrust policy in digital markets.

The statutory text of the United States antitrust laws is very broad, condemning all anticompetitive restraints on trade, monopolization, and mergers and interbrand contractual exclusion whose effect “may be substantially to lessen competition or tend to create a monopoly.” Federal judicial interpretation is much narrower, however, for several reasons. One is the residue of a reaction against excessive antitrust enforcement in the 1970s and earlier. However, since that time ...


Antitrust Harm And Causation, Herbert J. Hovenkamp Jan 2020

Antitrust Harm And Causation, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

How should plaintiffs show harm from antitrust violations? The inquiry naturally breaks into two issues: first, what is the nature of the harm? and second, what does proof of causation require? The best criterion for assessing harm is likely or reasonably anticipated output effects. Antitrust’s goal should be output as high as is consistent with sustainable competition.

The standard for proof of causation then depends on two things: the identity of the enforcer and the remedy that the plaintiff is seeking. It does not necessarily depend on which antitrust statute the plaintiff is seeking to enforce. For public agencies ...


On The Meaning Of Antitrust's Consumer Welfare Principle, Herbert J. Hovenkamp Jan 2020

On The Meaning Of Antitrust's Consumer Welfare Principle, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

This brief essay addresses the ambiguities in the meaning of “consumer welfare” in antitrust, exploring the differences between the Williamson, Bork, and current understanding of that term. After weighing the alternatives it argues that the consumer welfare principle in antitrust should seek out that state of affairs in which output is maximized, consistent with sustainable competition


Google V. Oracle Amicus Merits Stage Brief: Vindicating Ip’S Channeling Principle And Restoring Jurisdictional Balance To Software Copyright Protection, Peter Menell, David Nimmer, Shyamkrishna Balganesh Jan 2020

Google V. Oracle Amicus Merits Stage Brief: Vindicating Ip’S Channeling Principle And Restoring Jurisdictional Balance To Software Copyright Protection, Peter Menell, David Nimmer, Shyamkrishna Balganesh

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

The Federal Circuit’s decisions in Oracle v. Google conflict with this Court’s seminal decision in Baker v. Selden, 101 U.S. 99 (1879), misinterpret Congress’s codification of this Court’s fundamental channeling principle and related limiting doctrines, and upend nearly three decades of sound, well-settled, and critically important decisions of multiple regional circuits on the scope of copyright protection for computer software. Based on the fundamental channeling principle enunciated in Baker v. Selden, as reflected in § 102(b) of the Copyright Act, the functional requirements of APIs for computer systems and devices, like the internal workings of ...


Justice Department's New Position On Patents, Standard Setting, And Injunctions, Herbert J. Hovenkamp Jan 2020

Justice Department's New Position On Patents, Standard Setting, And Injunctions, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

A deep split in American innovation policy has arisen between new economy and old economy innovation. In a recent policy statement, the Antitrust Division of the Justice Department takes a position that tilts more toward the old economy. Its December, 2019, policy statement on remedies for Standard Essential Patents issued jointly with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and the National Institute of Standards and Technology reflects this movement.

The policy statement as a whole contains two noteworthy problems: one is a glaring omission, and the other is a mischaracterization of the scope of antitrust liability. Both positions are ...


What’S In Your Wallet (And What Should The Law Do About It?), Natasha Sarin Jan 2020

What’S In Your Wallet (And What Should The Law Do About It?), Natasha Sarin

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

In traditional markets, firms can charge prices that are significantly elevated relative to their costs only if there is a market failure. However, this is not true in a two-sided market (like Amazon, Uber, and Mastercard), where firms often subsidize one side of the market and generate revenue from the other. This means consideration of one side of the market in isolation is problematic. The Court embraced this view in Ohio v. American Express, requiring that anticompetitive harm on one side of a two-sided market be weighed against benefits on the other side.

Legal scholars denounce this decision, which, practically ...


Frand And Antitrust, Herbert J. Hovenkamp Jan 2020

Frand And Antitrust, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

This paper considers when a patentee’s violation of a FRAND commitment also violates the antitrust laws. It warns against two extremes. First, is thinking that any violation of a FRAND obligation is an antitrust violation as well. FRAND obligations are contractual, and most breaches of contract do not violate antitrust law. The other extreme is thinking that, because a FRAND violation is a breach of contract, it cannot also be an antitrust violation.

Every antitrust case must consider the market environment in which conduct is to be evaluated. SSOs operated by multiple firms are joint ventures. Antitrust’s role ...


Framing The Chicago School Of Antitrust Analysis, Herbert J. Hovenkamp, Fiona Scott Morton Jan 2020

Framing The Chicago School Of Antitrust Analysis, Herbert J. Hovenkamp, Fiona Scott Morton

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

The Chicago School of antitrust has benefited from a great deal of law office history, written by admiring advocates rather than more dispassionate observers. This essay attempts a more neutral stance, looking at the ideology, political impulses, and economics that produced the Chicago School of antitrust policy and that account for its durability.

The origins of the Chicago School lie in a strong commitment to libertarianism and nonintervention. Economic models of perfect competition best suited these goals. The early strength of the Chicago School of antitrust was that it provided simple, convincing answers to everything that was wrong with antitrust ...


The Post-Chicago Antitrust Revolution: A Retrospective, Christopher S. Yoo Jan 2020

The Post-Chicago Antitrust Revolution: A Retrospective, Christopher S. Yoo

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

A symposium examining the contributions of the post-Chicago School provides an appropriate opportunity to offer some thoughts on both the past and the future of antitrust. This afterword reviews the excellent papers with an eye toward appreciating the contributions and limitations of both the Chicago School, in terms of promoting the consumer welfare standard and embracing price theory as the preferred mode of economic analysis, and the post-Chicago School, with its emphasis on game theory and firm-level strategic conduct. It then explores two emerging trends, specifically neo-Brandeisian advocacy for abandoning consumer welfare as the sole goal of antitrust and the ...


Due Process In International Antitrust Enforcement: An Idea Whose Time Has Come, Christopher S. Yoo Sep 2019

Due Process In International Antitrust Enforcement: An Idea Whose Time Has Come, Christopher S. Yoo

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

The past year has witnessed an upsurge of international interest in due process in antitrust enforcement, reflected in two new comparative studies and International Competition Network’s (ICN’s) May 2019 adoption of its Recommended Practices for Investigative Process and Framework for Competition Agency Procedures and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Competition Committee’s discussion of the Draft Recommendation on Transparency and Procedural Fairness in Competition Law Enforcement in June 2019. This article reviews those developments, traces key differences among them, and looks ahead to what comes next.


Apple V. Pepper: Rationalizing Antitrust’S Indirect Purchaser Rule, Herbert J. Hovenkamp May 2019

Apple V. Pepper: Rationalizing Antitrust’S Indirect Purchaser Rule, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

In Apple v. Pepper the Supreme Court held that consumers who allegedly paid too much for apps sold on Apple’s iStore could sue Apple for antitrust damages because they were “direct purchasers.” The decision reflects some bizarre complexities that have resulted from the Supreme Court’s 1977 decision in Illinois Brick, which held that only direct purchasers could sue for overcharge injuries under the federal antitrust laws. The indirect purchaser rule was problematic from the beginning. First, it was plainly inconsistent with the antitrust damages statute, which gives an action to “any person who shall be injured in his ...


Competition Policy For Labour Markets, Herbert J. Hovenkamp May 2019

Competition Policy For Labour Markets, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Competition law in many jurisdictions defines its consumer welfare goal in terms of low consumer prices. For example, mergers are challenged when they threaten to cause a price increase from reduced competition in the post-merger market. While the consumer welfare principle is under attack in some circles, it remains the most widely expressed goal of antitrust policy.

We would do better, however, to define consumer welfare in terms of output rather than price. Competition policy should strive to facilitate the highest output in any market that is consistent with sustainable competition. That goal is in most ways the same as ...


Occupational Licensing And The Limits Of Public Choice Theory, Gabriel Scheffler, Ryan Nunn Apr 2019

Occupational Licensing And The Limits Of Public Choice Theory, Gabriel Scheffler, Ryan Nunn

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Public choice theory has long been the dominant lens through which economists and other scholars have viewed occupational licensing. According to the public choice account, practitioners favor licensing because they want to reduce competition and drive up their own wages. This essay argues that the public choice account has been overstated, and that it ironically has served to distract from some of the most important harms of licensing, as well as from potential solutions. We emphasize three specific drawbacks of this account. First, it is more dismissive of legitimate threats to public health and safety than the research warrants. Second ...


The Warren Campaign’S Antitrust Proposals, Herbert J. Hovenkamp Mar 2019

The Warren Campaign’S Antitrust Proposals, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Antitrust policy promises to be an important issue in the 2020 presidential election, and for good reason. Market power measured by price-cost margins has been on the rise since the 1980s. Presidential candidate Senator Elizabeth Warren has two proposals directed at large tech platforms. One would designate large platform markets such as Amazon “platform utilities,” and prohibit them from selling their own merchandise on the platform in competition with other retailers. The other proposes more aggressive enforcement against large platform acquisitions of smaller companies.

This paper concludes that the first proposal is anticompetitive, leading to reduced output and higher prices ...


The Power Of Ranking: The Ease Of Doing Business Indicator And Global Regulatory Behavior, Rush Doshi, Judith G. Kelley, Beth A. Simmons Jan 2019

The Power Of Ranking: The Ease Of Doing Business Indicator And Global Regulatory Behavior, Rush Doshi, Judith G. Kelley, Beth A. Simmons

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

The proliferation of Global Performance Indicators (GPIs), especially those that rate and rank states against one another, shapes decisions of states, investors, bureaucrats, and voters. This power has not been lost on the World Bank, which has marshaled the Ease of Doing Business (EDB) index to amass surprising influence over global regulatory policies – a domain over which it has no explicit mandate and for which there is ideological contestation. This paper demonstrates how the World Bank’s EDB ranking system affects policy through bureaucratic, transnational, and domestic-political channels. We use observational and experimental data to show that states respond to ...


Intellectual Property And Competition, Herbert J. Hovenkamp Jan 2019

Intellectual Property And Competition, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

A legal system that relies on private property rights to promote economic development must consider that profits can come from two different sources. First, both competition under constant technology and innovation promote economic growth by granting many of the returns to the successful developer. Competition and innovation both increase output, whether measured by quantity or quality. Second, however, profits can come from practices that reduce output, in some cases by reducing quantity, or in others by reducing innovation.

IP rights and competition policy were traditionally regarded as in conflict. IP rights create monopoly, which was thought to be inimical to ...


Product Differentiation, Christopher S. Yoo Jan 2019

Product Differentiation, Christopher S. Yoo

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

The literature applying the economics of product differentiation to intellectual property has been called the most important development in the economic analysis of IP in years. Relaxing the assumption that products are homogeneous yields new insights by explaining persistent features of IP markets that the traditional approaches cannot, challenging the extent to which IP allows rightsholders to earn monopoly profits, allowing for sources of welfare outside of price-quantity space, which in turn opens up new dimensions along which intellectual property can compete. It also allows for equilibria with different welfare characteristics, making the tendency towards systematic underproduction more contingent and ...


Platforms And The Rule Of Reason: The American Express Case, Herbert J. Hovenkamp Jan 2019

Platforms And The Rule Of Reason: The American Express Case, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

In Ohio v. American Express Co., the Supreme Court applied antitrust’s rule of reason to a two-sided platform. The challenge was to an “anti-steering” rule, a vertical restraint preventing merchants from shifting customers who offered an AmEx card from to a less costly alternative such as Visa or Mastercard.

A two-sided platform is a business that depends on relationships between two different, noncompeting groups of transaction partners. For example, a printed periodical such as a newspaper earns revenue by selling both advertising and subscriptions to the paper itself. Success depends on a platform’s ability to maintain the appropriate ...


Anticompetitive Mergers In Labor Markets, Ioana Marinescu, Herbert J. Hovenkamp Jan 2019

Anticompetitive Mergers In Labor Markets, Ioana Marinescu, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Mergers of competitors are conventionally challenged under the federal antitrust laws when they threaten to lessen competition in some product or service market in which the merging firms sell. Mergers can also injure competition in markets where the firms purchase. Although that principle is widely recognized, very few litigated cases have applied merger law to buyers. This article concerns an even more rarefied subset, and one that has barely been mentioned. Nevertheless, its implications are staggering. Some mergers may be unlawful because they injure competition in the labor market by enabling the post-merger firm anticompetitively to suppress wages or salaries ...


Procedural Fairness In Antitrust Enforcement: The U.S. Perspective, Christopher S. Yoo, Hendrik M. Wendland Jan 2019

Procedural Fairness In Antitrust Enforcement: The U.S. Perspective, Christopher S. Yoo, Hendrik M. Wendland

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Due process and fairness in enforcement procedures represent a critical aspect of the rule of law. Allowing greater participation by the parties and making enforcement procedures more transparent serve several functions, including better decisionmaking, greater respect for government, stronger economic growth, promotion of investment, limits corruption and politically motivated actions, regulation of bureaucratic ambition, and greater control of agency staff whose vision do not align with agency leadership or who are using an enforcement matter to advance their careers. That is why such distinguished actors as the International Competition Network (ICN), the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the ...


Health Care's Market Bureaucracy, Allison K. Hoffman Jan 2019

Health Care's Market Bureaucracy, Allison K. Hoffman

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

The last several decades of health law and policy have been built on a foundation of economic theory. This theory supported the proliferation of market-based policies that promised maximum efficiency and minimal bureaucracy. Neither of these promises has been realized. A mounting body of empirical research discussed in this Article makes clear that leading market-based policies are not efficient — they fail to capture what people want. Even more, this Article describes how the struggle to bolster these policies — through constant regulatory, technocratic tinkering that aims to improve the market and the decision-making of consumers in it — has produced a massive ...