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President Biden's Executive Order On Competition: An Antitrust Analysis, Herbert J. Hovenkamp Jul 2022

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

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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 …


Antitrust Liability For False Advertising: A Response To Carrier & Tushnet, Susannah Gagnon, Herbert J. Hovenkamp Jun 2022

Antitrust Liability For False Advertising: A Response To Carrier & Tushnet, Susannah Gagnon, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

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This reply briefly considers when false advertising can give rise to antitrust liability. The biggest difference between tort and antitrust liability is that the latter requires harm to the market, which is critically dependent on actual consumer response. As a result, the biggest hurdle a private plaintiff faces in turning an act of false advertising into an antitrust offense is proof of causation – to what extent can a decline in purchase volume or other market rejection be specifically attributed to the defendant’s false claims? That requirement dooms the great majority of false advertising claims attacked as violations of the …


Digital Cluster Markets, Herbert J. Hovenkamp Apr 2022

Digital Cluster Markets, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

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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 …


A Miser’S Rule Of Reason: The Supreme Court And Antitrust Limits On Student Athlete Compensation, Herbert J. Hovenkamp Jan 2022

A Miser’S Rule Of Reason: The Supreme Court And Antitrust Limits On Student Athlete Compensation, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

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The unanimous Supreme Court decision in NCAA v. Alston is its most important probe of antitrust’s rule of reason in decades. The decision implicates several issues, including the role of antitrust in labor markets, how antitrust applies to institutions that have an educational mission as well as involvement in a large commercial enterprise, and how much leeway district courts should have in creating decrees that contemplate ongoing administration.

The Court accepted what has come to be the accepted framework: the plaintiff must make out a prima facie case of competitive harm. Then the burden shifts to the defendant to produce …


Antitrust Harm And Causation, Herbert J. Hovenkamp Jul 2021

Antitrust Harm And Causation, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

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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, enforcement …


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

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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 …


The Rule Of Reason, Herbert J. Hovenkamp Jan 2018

The Rule Of Reason, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

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Antitrust’s rule of reason was born out of a thirty-year (1897-1927) division among Supreme Court Justices about the proper way to assess multi-firm restraints on competition. By the late 1920s the basic contours of the rule for restraints among competitors was roughly established. Antitrust policy toward vertical restraints remained much more unstable, however, largely because their effects were so poorly understood.

This article provides a litigation field guide for antitrust claims under the rule of reason – or more precisely, for situations when application of the rule of reason is likely. At the time pleadings are drafted and even up …


Horizontal Mergers, Market Structure, And Burdens Of Proof, Herbert J. Hovenkamp, Carl Shapiro Jan 2018

Horizontal Mergers, Market Structure, And Burdens Of Proof, Herbert J. Hovenkamp, Carl Shapiro

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Since the Supreme Court’s landmark 1963 decision in Philadelphia National Bank, antitrust challengers have mounted prima facie cases against horizontal mergers that rested on the level and increase in market concentration caused by the merger, with proponents of the merger then permitted to rebut by providing evidence that the merger will not have the feared anticompetitive effects. Although the way that concentration is measured and the triggering levels have changed over the last half century, the basic approach has remained intact. This longstanding structural presumption, which is well supported by economic theory and evidence, has been critical to effective …


Horizontal Shareholding And Antitrust Policy, Fiona M. Scott Morton, Herbert J. Hovenkamp Jan 2018

Horizontal Shareholding And Antitrust Policy, Fiona M. Scott Morton, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

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“Horizontal shareholding” occurs when one or more equity funds own shares of competitors operating in a concentrated product market. For example, the four largest mutual fund companies might be large shareholders of all the major United States air carriers. A growing body of empirical literature concludes that under these conditions market output in the product market is lower and prices higher than they would otherwise be.

Here we consider how the antitrust laws might be applied to this practice, identifying the issues that courts are likely to encounter and attempting to anticipate litigation problems. We assume that neither the mutual …


Progressive Antitrust, Herbert J. Hovenkamp Jan 2018

Progressive Antitrust, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

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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 …


Reasonable Patent Exhaustion, Herbert J. Hovenkamp Jan 2018

Reasonable Patent Exhaustion, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

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A lengthy tug of war between the Supreme Court and the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals may have ended when the Supreme Court held that the sale of a patented article exhausts the patentee seller’s rights to enforce restrictions on that article through patent infringement suits. Further, reversing the Federal Circuit, the parties cannot bargain around this rule through the seller’s specification of conditions stated at the time of sale, no matter how clear. No inquiry need be made into the patentee’s market power, anticompetitive effects, or other types of harms, whether enforcement of the condition is socially costly or …


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

Antitrust Policy And Inequality Of Wealth, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

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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 …


The Ncaa And The Rule Of Reason, Herbert J. Hovenkamp Jul 2017

The Ncaa And The Rule Of Reason, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

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This brief essay considers the use of antitrust’s rule of reason in assessing challenges to rule making by the NCAA. In particular, it looks at the O’Bannon case, which involved challenges to NCAA rules limiting the compensation of student athletes under the NCAA rubric that protects the “amateur” status of collegiate athletes. Within that rubric, the Ninth Circuit got the right answer.

That outcome leads to a broader question, however: should the NCAA’s long held goal, frequently supported by the courts, of preserving athletic amateurism be jettisoned? Given the dual role that colleges play, that is a complex question, raising …


Appraising Merger Efficiencies, Herbert J. Hovenkamp Jan 2017

Appraising Merger Efficiencies, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

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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 …


Buying Monopoly: Antitrust Limits On Damages For Externally Acquired Patents, Erik N. Hovenkamp, Herbert J. Hovenkamp Jan 2017

Buying Monopoly: Antitrust Limits On Damages For Externally Acquired Patents, Erik N. Hovenkamp, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

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The “monopoly” authorized by the Patent Act refers to the exclusionary power of individual patents. That is not the same thing as the acquisition of individual patent rights into portfolios that dominate a market, something that the Patent Act never justifies and that the antitrust laws rightfully prohibit.

Most patent assignments are procompetitive and serve to promote the efficient commercialization of patented inventions. However, patent acquisitions may also be used to combine substitute patents from external patentees, giving the acquirer an unearned monopoly position in the relevant technology market. A producer requires only one of the substitutes, but by acquiring …


Patent Exhaustion And Federalism: A Historical Note, Herbert J. Hovenkamp Apr 2016

Patent Exhaustion And Federalism: A Historical Note, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

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This essay, written as a response to John F. Duffy and Richard Hynes, Statutory Domain and the Commercial Law of Intellectual Property, 102 VA. L. REV. 1 (2016), argues that the patent exhaustion (first sale) doctrine developed as a creature of federalism, intended to divide the line between the law of patents, which by that time had become exclusively federal, and the law of patented things, which were governed by the states. Late nineteenth and early twentieth century courts were explicit on the point, in decisions stretching from the 1850s well into the twentieth century.

By the second half of …


Antitrust Balancing, Herbert J. Hovenkamp Apr 2016

Antitrust Balancing, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

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Antitrust litigation often confronts situations where effects point in both directions. Judges sometimes describe the process of evaluating these factors as “balancing.” In its e-Books decision the Second Circuit believed that the need to balance is what justifies application of the rule of reason. In Microsoft the D.C. Circuit stated that “courts routinely apply a…balancing approach” under which “the plaintiff must demonstrate that the anticompetitive harm…outweighs the procompetitive benefit.” But then it decided the case without balancing anything.

The term “balancing” is a very poor label for what courts actually do in these cases. Balancing requires that two offsetting effects …


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

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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 analyze various …


Predatory Pricing Under The Areeda-Turner Test, Herbert J. Hovenkamp Mar 2015

Predatory Pricing Under The Areeda-Turner Test, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

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Few works of legal scholarship have had the impact enjoyed by Areeda and Turner's 1975 article on predatory pricing. Proof of predatory pricing under the Areeda-Turner test requires two things. The plaintiff must show a market structure such that the predator could rationally foresee "recouping the losses through higher profits earned in the absence of competition." This requirement, typically called "recoupment," requires the plaintiff to show that, looking from the beginning of the predation campaign, the predator can reasonably anticipate that the costs of predation will be more than offset by the present value of a future period of monopoly …


Brulotte'S Web, Herbert J. Hovenkamp Jan 2015

Brulotte'S Web, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

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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 …


Progressive Legal Thought, Herbert J. Hovenkamp Jan 2015

Progressive Legal Thought, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

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A widely accepted model of American legal history is that "classical" legal thought, which dominated much of the nineteenth century, was displaced by "progressive" legal thought, which survived through the New Deal and in some form to this day. Within its domain, this was a revolution nearly on a par with Copernicus or Newton. This paradigm has been adopted by both progressive liberals who defend this revolution and by classical liberals who lament it.

Classical legal thought is generally identified with efforts to systematize legal rules along lines that had become familiar in the natural sciences. This methodology involved not …


Robert Bork And Vertical Integration: Leverage, Foreclosure, And Efficiency, Herbert J. Hovenkamp Jan 2014

Robert Bork And Vertical Integration: Leverage, Foreclosure, And Efficiency, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

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Robert H. Bork wrote his fist article about vertical integration and antitrust policy in 1954, a year after he graduated from the University of Chicago Law School. He noted a recent increase in antitrust attacks on vertical integration and disagreed with those who believed that these attacks were a novelty. At the time, judicial hostility toward vertical integration was rampant. But Bork overstated his case about the period prior to the 1930s. Through the 1920s judicial attitudes toward vertical integration were more benign than Bork suggested. This position was largely consistent with the pre-Depression economics literature, which emphasized production cost …


Anticompetitive Patent Settlements And The Supreme Court's Actavis Decision, Herbert J. Hovenkamp Nov 2013

Anticompetitive Patent Settlements And The Supreme Court's Actavis Decision, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

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In FTC v. Actavis the Supreme Court held that settlement of a patent infringement suit in which the patentee of a branded pharmaceutical drug pays a generic infringer to stay out of the market may be illegal under the antitrust laws. Justice Breyer's majority opinion was surprisingly broad, in two critical senses. First, he spoke with a generality that reached far beyond the pharmaceutical generic drug disputes that have provoked numerous pay-for-delay settlements.

Second was the aggressive approach that the Court chose. The obvious alternatives were the rule that prevailed in most Circuits, that any settlement is immune from antitrust …


Harm To Competition Or Innovation, Herbert J. Hovenkamp Apr 2013

Harm To Competition Or Innovation, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

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This book of CASES AND MATERIALS ON INNOVATION AND COMPETITION POLICY is intended for educational use. The book is free for all to use subject to an open source license agreement. It differs from IP/antitrust casebooks in that it considers numerous sources of competition policy in addition to antitrust, including those that emanate from the intellectual property laws themselves, and also related issues such as the relationship between market structure and innovation, the competitive consequences of regulatory rules governing technology competition such as net neutrality and interconnection, misuse, the first sale doctrine, and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Chapters …


Complementary Products And Processes - The Law Of Tying, Herbert J. Hovenkamp Apr 2013

Complementary Products And Processes - The Law Of Tying, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

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This book of CASES AND MATERIALS ON INNOVATION AND COMPETITION POLICY is intended for educational use. The book is free for all to use subject to an open source license agreement. It differs from IP/antitrust casebooks in that it considers numerous sources of competition policy in addition to antitrust, including those that emanate from the intellectual property laws themselves, and also related issues such as the relationship between market structure and innovation, the competitive consequences of regulatory rules governing technology competition such as net neutrality and interconnection, misuse, the first sale doctrine, and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Chapters …


Innovation And Competition Policy, Chapter 6 (2d Ed): Restraints On Innovation, Herbert J. Hovenkamp Apr 2013

Innovation And Competition Policy, Chapter 6 (2d Ed): Restraints On Innovation, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

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This book of CASES AND MATERIALS ON INNOVATION AND COMPETITION POLICY is intended for educational use. The book is free for all to use subject to an open source license agreement. It differs from IP/antitrust casebooks in that it considers numerous sources of competition policy in addition to antitrust, including those that emanate from the intellectual property laws themselves, and also related issues such as the relationship between market structure and innovation, the competitive consequences of regulatory rules governing technology competition such as net neutrality and interconnection, misuse, the first sale doctrine, and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Chapters …


Competition Policy And The Scope Of Intellectual Property Protection, Herbert J. Hovenkamp Apr 2013

Competition Policy And The Scope Of Intellectual Property Protection, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

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This book of CASES AND MATERIALS ON INNOVATION AND COMPETITION POLICY is intended for educational use. The book is free for all to use subject to an open source license agreement. It differs from IP/antitrust casebooks in that it considers numerous sources of competition policy in addition to antitrust, including those that emanate from the intellectual property laws themselves, and also related issues such as the relationship between market structure and innovation, the competitive consequences of regulatory rules governing technology competition such as net neutrality and interconnection, misuse, the first sale doctrine, and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Chapters …


Extraterritorial Criminal Jurisdiction Under The Antitrust Laws, Herbert J. Hovenkamp Feb 2013

Extraterritorial Criminal Jurisdiction Under The Antitrust Laws, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

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The Ninth Circuit may soon consider whether challenges to antitrust activity that occurs abroad must invariably be addressed under the rule of reason, which will make criminal prosecution difficult or impossible.

When antitrust cases involve foreign conduct, the courts customarily appraise its substantive antitrust significance only after deciding whether the Sherman Act reaches the activity. Nevertheless, "jurisdictional" and "substantive" inquiries are not wholly independent. Both reflect two sound propositions: that Congress did not intend American antitrust law to rule the entire commercial world and that Congress knew that domestic economic circumstances often differ from those abroad where mechanical application of …


Antitrust And The 'Filed Rate' Doctrine: Deregulation And State Action, Herbert J. Hovenkamp Dec 2012

Antitrust And The 'Filed Rate' Doctrine: Deregulation And State Action, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

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In its Keogh decision the Supreme Court held that although the Interstate Commerce Act did not exempt railroads from antitrust liability, a private plaintiff may not recover treble damages based on an allegedly monopolistic tariff rate filed with a federal agency. Keogh very likely grew out of Justice Brandeis's own zeal for regulation and his concern for the protection of small business — in this case, mainly shippers whom he felt were protected from discrimination by filed rates. The Supreme Court's Square D decision later conceded that Keogh may have been “unwise as a matter of policy,” but reaffirmed it …


Quantification Of Harm In Private Antitrust Actions In The United States, Herbert J. Hovenkamp Feb 2011

Quantification Of Harm In Private Antitrust Actions In The United States, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

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This paper discusses the theory and experience of United States courts concerning the quantification of harm in antitrust cases. This treatment pertains to both the social cost of antitrust violations, and to the private damage mechanisms that United States antitrust law has developed. It is submitted for the Roundtable on the Quantification of Harm to Competition by National Courts and Competition Agencies, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Feb., 2011.

In a typical year more than 90% of antitrust complaints filed in the United States are by private plaintiffs rather than the federal government. Further, when the individual states …