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Herbert Hovenkamp As Antitrust Oracle: Appreciating The Overlooked Contributions Of The New Harvard School, Christopher S. Yoo Jul 2021

Herbert Hovenkamp As Antitrust Oracle: Appreciating The Overlooked Contributions Of The New Harvard School, Christopher S. Yoo

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

My colleague, Herbert Hovenkamp, is almost universally recognized as the most cited and the most authoritative US antitrust scholar. Among his many honors, his status as the senior author of the authoritative Areeda and Hovenkamp treatise makes him the unquestioned leader of the New Harvard School, which has long served as the bellwether for how courts are likely to resolve emerging issues in modern antitrust doctrine. Unfortunately, its defining tenets and its positions on emerging issues remain surprisingly obscure. My contribution to this festschrift explores the core commitments that distinguish the New Harvard School from other approaches to antitrust. It ...


President Biden's Executive Order On Promoting Competition: An Antitrust Analysis, Herbert J. Hovenkamp Jul 2021

President Biden's Executive Order On Promoting Competition: An Antitrust Analysis, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

In July, 2021, President Biden signed a far ranging Executive Order directed to promoting competition in the American economy. This paper analyzes issues covered by the Order that are most likely to affect the scope and enforcement of antitrust law. The only passage that the Executive Order quoted from a Supreme Court antitrust decision captures its antitrust ideology well – that the Sherman Act:

rests on the premise that the unrestrained interaction of competitive forces will yield the best allocation of our economic resources, the lowest prices, the highest quality and the greatest material progress, while at the same time providing ...


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


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 ...


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 ...


Is Antitrust's Consumer Welfare Principle Imperiled?, Herbert J. Hovenkamp Jan 2019

Is Antitrust's Consumer Welfare Principle Imperiled?, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Antitrust’s consumer welfare principle stands for the proposition that antitrust policy should encourage markets to produce output as high as is consistent with sustainable competition, and prices that are accordingly as low. Such a policy does not protect every interest group. For example, it opposes the interests of cartels or other competition-limiting associations who profit from lower output and higher prices. It also runs counter to the interest of less competitive firms that need higher prices in order to survive. Market structure is relevant to antitrust policy, but its importance is contingent rather than absolute – that is, market structure ...


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 ...


Prophylactic Merger Policy, Herbert J. Hovenkamp Dec 2018

Prophylactic Merger Policy, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

An important purpose of the antitrust merger law is to arrest certain anticompetitive practices or outcomes in their “incipiency.” Many Clayton Act decisions involving both mergers and other practices had recognized the idea as early as the 1920s. In Brown Shoe the Supreme Court doubled down on the idea, attributing to Congress a concern about a “rising tide of economic concentration” that must be halted “at its outset and before it gathered momentum.” The Supreme Court did not explain why an incipiency test was needed to address this particular problem. Once structural thresholds for identifying problematic mergers are identified there ...


Progressive Antitrust, Herbert J. Hovenkamp Jan 2018

Progressive Antitrust, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Several American political candidates and administrations have both run and served under the “progressive” banner for more than a century, right through the 2016 election season. For the most part these have pursued interventionist antitrust policies, reflecting a belief that markets are fragile and in need of repair, that certain interest groups require greater protection, or in some cases that antitrust policy is an extended arm of regulation. This paper argues that most of this progressive antitrust policy was misconceived, including that reflected in the 2016 antitrust plank of the Democratic Party. The progressive state is best served by a ...


Antitrust Policy And Inequality Of Wealth, Herbert J. Hovenkamp Oct 2017

Antitrust Policy And Inequality Of Wealth, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Why would anyone want to use antitrust law as a wealth distribution device when far more explicit statutory tools are available for that purpose? One feature of antitrust is its open-textured, nonspecific statutes that are interpreted by judges. As a result, using antitrust to redistribute wealth may be a way of invoking the judicial process without having to go to Congress or a state legislature that is likely to be unsympathetic. Of course, a corollary is that someone attempting to use antitrust law to redistribute wealth will have to rely on the existing antitrust statutes rather than obtaining a new ...


Appraising Merger Efficiencies, Herbert J. Hovenkamp Jan 2017

Appraising Merger Efficiencies, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Mergers of business firms violate the antitrust laws when they threaten to lessen competition, which generally refers to a price increase resulting from a reduction in output. However, a merger that threatens competition may also enable the post-merger firm to reduce its costs or improve its product. Attitudes toward mergers are heavily driven by assumptions about efficiency gains. If mergers of competitors never produced efficiency gains but simply reduced the number of competitors, a strong presumption against them would be warranted. We tolerate most mergers because of a background, highly generalized belief that most or at least many produce cost ...


Re-Imagining Antitrust: The Revisionist Work Of Richard S. Markovits, Herbert J. Hovenkamp Jan 2016

Re-Imagining Antitrust: The Revisionist Work Of Richard S. Markovits, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

This review discusses Richard Markovits’ two volume book "Economics and the Interpretation" and "Application of U.S. and E.U. Antitrust Law" (2014), focusing mainly on Markovits’ approaches to antitrust tests of illegality, pricing offenses, market definition and the assessment of market power, and his important work anticipating unilateral effects theory in merger cases. Markovits argues forcefully that the Sherman and Clayton Acts were intended to employ different tests of illegality. As a result, even when they cover the same practices, such as mergers, exclusive dealing, or tying, they address them under different tests. He then shows how he would ...


Brulotte'S Web, Herbert J. Hovenkamp Jan 2015

Brulotte'S Web, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Kimble v. Marvel Entertainment held that stare decisis required the Supreme Court to adhere to the half century old, much criticized rule in Brulotte v. Thys. Justice Douglas' Brulotte opinion concluded that license agreements requiring royalties measured by use of a patent after its expiration are unenforceable per se. The court need not inquire into market power nor anticompetitive effects, effects on innovation, and it may not accept any defense. Congress can change the rule if it wants to, but has resisted many invitations to do so.

Under Brulotte a hybrid license on patents and trade secrets requires a royalty ...


Tying Arrangements, Erik Hovenkamp, Herbert J. Hovenkamp Jan 2015

Tying Arrangements, Erik Hovenkamp, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

This paper provides an overview of the law and the antitrust economics of tying. After describing the many varieties of tying arrangements we examine specific legal tying doctrines and gauge their effectiveness in identifying anticompetitive ties. We generally assume that the appropriate antitrust goal is consumer welfare; however, all situations in which consumer welfare is increased by a tie also result in an increase in general welfare. We look at the use of ties as quality control devices and as ways of obtaining both production and distribution efficiencies.

Market power in either the tying or tied product is a necessary ...


Implementing Antitrust's Welfare Goals, Herbert J. Hovenkamp Jan 2014

Implementing Antitrust's Welfare Goals, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

United States antitrust policy is said to promote some version of economic welfare. Antitrust promotes allocative efficiency by ensuring that markets are as competitive as they can practicably be, and that firms do not face unreasonable roadblocks to attaining productive efficiency, which refers to both cost minimization and innovation. One important welfare debate is whether antitrust should adopt a “consumer welfare” principle rather than a more general “total welfare” principle.

The simple version of the consumer welfare test is not a balancing test. If consumers are harmed by reduced output or higher prices resulting from the exercise of market power ...


Harm To Competition Under The 2010 Horizontal Merger Guidelines, Herbert J. Hovenkamp Jan 2014

Harm To Competition Under The 2010 Horizontal Merger Guidelines, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

In August, 2010, the Antitrust Division and the Federal Trade Commission issued new Guidelines for assessing the competitive effects of horizontal mergers under the antitrust laws. These Guidelines were long awaited not merely because of the lengthy interval between them and previous Guidelines but also because enforcement policy had drifted far from the standards articulated in the previous Guidelines. The 2010 Guidelines are distinctive mainly for two things. One is briefer and less detailed treatment of market delineation. The other is an expanded set of theories of harm that justify preventing mergers or reversing mergers that have already occurred.

The ...


Merger Policy And The 2010 Merger Guidelines, Herbert J. Hovenkamp Jan 2014

Merger Policy And The 2010 Merger Guidelines, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

New Horizontal Merger Guidelines were issued jointly by the Antitrust Division and the Federal Trade Commission in August, 2010, replacing Guidelines issued in 1992 that no longer reflected either the law or government enforcement policy. The new Guidelines are a striking improvement. They are less technocratic, accommodating a greater and more realistic variety of theories about why mergers of competitors can be anticompetitive and, accordingly, a greater variety of methodologies for assessing them.

The unifying theme of the Horizontal Merger Guidelines is to prevent the enhancement of market power that might result from mergers. The 2010 Guidelines state that “[a ...


Antitrust, The Internet, And The Economics Of Networks, Christopher S. Yoo, Daniel F. Spulber Jan 2013

Antitrust, The Internet, And The Economics Of Networks, Christopher S. Yoo, Daniel F. Spulber

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Network industries, including the Internet, have shown significant growth, substantial competition, and rapid innovation. This Chapter examines antitrust policy towards network industries. The discussion considers the policy implications of various concepts in the economics of networks: natural monopoly, network economic effects, vertical exclusion, and dynamic efficiency. Our analysis finds that antitrust policy makers should not presume that network industries are more subject to monopolization than other industries. We find that deregulation and the strength of competition in network industries have removed justifications for structural separation as a remedy. Also, we argue that that deregulation and competition have effectively eliminated support ...


Antitrust And Nonexcluding Ties, Herbert J. Hovenkamp Dec 2012

Antitrust And Nonexcluding Ties, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Notwithstanding hundreds of court decisions, tying arrangements remain enigmatic. Conclusions that go to either extreme, per se legality or per se illegality, invariably make simplifying assumptions that frequently do not obtain. For example, by ignoring double marginalization or tying product price cuts it becomes very easy to prove that a wide range of ties are anticompetitive. At the other extreme, by ignoring foreclosure possibilities one can readily conclude that ties are invariably benign.

Ties have historically been thought to produce two kinds of competitive harm: “leverage,” or extraction; and foreclosure, or exclusion. The two theories are not mutually exclusive. Indeed ...


Antitrust And The Costs Of Movement, Herbert J. Hovenkamp Oct 2012

Antitrust And The Costs Of Movement, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Antitrust is rightfully concerned about the structure of markets as well as the bargaining that occurs in them. As a result, the absolute cost of redeploying resources can be just as important as the transaction costs of arranging for their movement. This paper examines several broad themes in antitrust, considering the role of various assumptions about the costs of getting resources moved toward superior positions and the ability of the antitrust system to facilitate this movement. Part II very briefly examines structuralism as a theory underlying antitrust enforcement, particularly its assumptions about the difficulty and costs of moving resources. Harvard ...


Competition In Information Technologies: Standards-Essential Patents, Non-Practicing Entities And Frand Bidding, Herbert J. Hovenkamp Oct 2012

Competition In Information Technologies: Standards-Essential Patents, Non-Practicing Entities And Frand Bidding, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Standard Setting is omnipresent in networked information technologies. Virtually every cellular phone, computer, digital camera or similar device contains technologies governed by a collaboratively developed standard. If these technologies are to perform competitively, the processes by which standards are developed and implemented must be competitive. In this case attaining competitive results requires a mixture of antitrust and non-antitrust legal tools.

FRAND refers to a firm’s ex ante commitment to make its technology available at a “fair, reasonable and nondiscriminatory royalty.” The FRAND commitment results from bidding to have one’s own technology selected as a standard. Typically the FRAND ...


Antitrust And The Movement Of Technology, Herbert J. Hovenkamp Jan 2012

Antitrust And The Movement Of Technology, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Patents create strong incentives for collaborative development. For many technologies fixed costs are extremely high in relation to variable costs. A second feature of technology that encourages collaborative development is the need for interoperability or common standards. Third, in contrast to traditional commons, intellectual property commons are almost always nonrivalrous on the supply side. If ten producers all own the rights to make a product covered by a patent, each one can make as many units as it pleases without limiting the number that others can make. That might seem to be a good thing, but considered ex ante it ...


Markets In Merger Analysis, Herbert J. Hovenkamp Jan 2012

Markets In Merger Analysis, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Antitrust merger policy suffers from a disconnect between its articulated concerns and the methodologies it employs. The Supreme Court has largely abandoned the field of horizontal merger analysis, leaving us with ancient decisions that have never been overruled but whose fundamental approach has been ignored or discredited. As a result the case law reflects the structuralism of a bygone era, focusing on industrial concentration and market shares, largely to the exclusion of other measures of competitive harm, including price increases. Only within the last generation has econometrics developed useful techniques for estimating the price impact of specific mergers in differentiated ...


Markets In Ip And Antitrust, Herbert J. Hovenkamp Dec 2011

Markets In Ip And Antitrust, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

The purpose of market definition in antitrust law is to identify a grouping of sales such that a single firm who controlled them could maintain prices for a significant time at above the competitive level. The conceptions and procedures that go into “market definition” in antitrust can be quite different from those that go into market definition in IP law. When the issue of market definition appears in IP cases, it is mainly as a query about the range over which rivalry occurs. This rivalry may or may not have much to do with a firm’s ability to charge ...


Mergers, Market Dominance And The Lundbeck Case, Herbert J. Hovenkamp Dec 2011

Mergers, Market Dominance And The Lundbeck Case, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

In Lundbeck the Eighth Circuit affirmed a district court’s judgment that a merger involving the only two drugs approved for treating a serious heart condition in infants was lawful. Although the drugs treated the same condition they were not bioequivalents. The Eighth Circuit approved the district court’s conclusion that they had not been shown to be in the same relevant market.

Most mergers that are subject to challenge under the antitrust laws occur in markets that exhibit some degree of product differentiation. The Lundbeck case illustrates some of the problems that can arise when courts apply ideas derived ...


Tying Arrangements And Lawful Alternatives: Transaction Costs Considerations, Herbert J. Hovenkamp Aug 2011

Tying Arrangements And Lawful Alternatives: Transaction Costs Considerations, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Tying arrangements often increase welfare by promoting product quality and protecting the supplier's goodwill in the tying product. When the tying product works effectively only with ancillary materials or accessories or services of a particular kind or quality, its supplier can assure the requisite quality of the ancillary product only by supplying that product itself. The cost savings defense and the defenses of quality control or good will are the most widely recognized and accepted tying defenses.

One characteristic of manufactured products is differentiation among the offerings of various brands. This in turn produces a need for more specialized ...


Quasi Exclusive Dealing, Herbert J. Hovenkamp Aug 2011

Quasi Exclusive Dealing, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

A firm's discounting policies over a single product raise concerns analogous to exclusive dealing in two situations. First, the firm may offer conditional discounts structured in such a way as to induce customers to take most of their requirements for a given product from the defendant. In addition, a firm may employ “slotting” fees or similar allowances paid by manufacturers to retailers, with the possible result that rivals have difficulty obtaining access to shelf space. Neither practice is literally "exclusive dealing," because neither involves a condition that the purchaser not deal in the goods of a rival, although they ...


Tying Noncompetitive Goods, Herbert J. Hovenkamp Jul 2011

Tying Noncompetitive Goods, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Many of the classic tying cases involved tied products that were common staples such as button fasteners, canned ink, dry ice, or salt. These products were sold in competitive markets, presumably at prices very close to cost. For most of them the most likely explanations for the tie were quality control or price discrimination, both with competitively benign results in the great majority of situations. When the tied good is sold in a noncompetitive market, however, an additional consumer welfare enhancing result is likely to obtain – namely, the elimination of double marginalization, which occurs when separate sellers of complementary products ...