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Selling Antitrust, Herbert J. Hovenkamp Aug 2022

Selling Antitrust, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

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Antitrust enforcers and its other defenders have never done a good job of selling their field to the public. That is not entirely their fault. Antitrust is inherently technical, and a less engaging discipline to most people than, say, civil rights or criminal law. The more serious problem is that when the general press does talk about antitrust policy it naturally gravitates toward the fringes, both the far right and the far left. Extreme rhetoric makes for better press than the day-to-day operations of a technical enterprise. The extremes are often stated in overdramatized black-and-white terms that avoid the real …


Appreciating The Overlooked Contributions Of The New Harvard School, Christopher S. Yoo Jul 2021

Appreciating The Overlooked Contributions Of The New Harvard School, Christopher S. Yoo

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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 …


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

Competitive Harm From Vertical Mergers, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

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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 …


Frand And Antitrust, Herbert J. Hovenkamp Jan 2020

Frand And Antitrust, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

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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 is to …


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

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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, …


Intellectual Property And Competition, Herbert J. Hovenkamp Jan 2019

Intellectual Property And Competition, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

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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 …


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 …


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 …


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 …


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 …


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 …


Patent Pools And Related Technology Sharing, Erik Hovenkamp, Herbert J. Hovenkamp Jan 2017

Patent Pools And Related Technology Sharing, Erik Hovenkamp, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

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A patent "pool" is an arrangement under which patent holders in a common technology commit their patents to a single holder, who then licenses them out to the original patentees and perhaps also to outsiders. The payoffs include both revenue earned as a licensor, and technology acquired by pool members as licensees. Public effects can also be significant. For example, technology sharing of complementary patents can improve product quality and variety. In some information technology markets pools can prevent patents from becoming a costly obstacle to innovation by clearing channels of technology transfer. By contrast, a pool's aggregate output reduction …


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 And Information Technologies, Herbert J. Hovenkamp Mar 2016

Antitrust And Information Technologies, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

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Technological change strongly affects the use of information to facilitate anticompetitive practices. The effects result mainly from digitization and the many products and processes that it enables. These technologies of information also account for a significant portion of the difficulties that antitrust law encounters when its addresses intellectual property rights. In addition, changes in the technologies of information affect the structures of certain products, in the process either increasing or decreasing the potential for competitive harm.

For example, digital technology affects the way firms exercise market power, but it also imposes serious measurement difficulties. The digital revolution has occurred in …


Telecommunications: Competition Policy In The Telecommunications Space, Gene Kimmelman, Maureen K. Ohlhausen, Michael O’Rielly, Christopher S. Yoo, Stephen F. Williams Jan 2016

Telecommunications: Competition Policy In The Telecommunications Space, Gene Kimmelman, Maureen K. Ohlhausen, Michael O’Rielly, Christopher S. Yoo, Stephen F. Williams

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In today’s rapidly evolving telecommunications landscape, the development of new technologies and distribution platforms are driving innovation and growth at a breakneck speed across the Internet ecosystem. Broadband connectivity is increasingly important to our civil discourse, our economy, and our future. What is the proper role of government in facilitating robust investment and competition in this critical sector? When technology companies constantly have to reinvent themselves and adapt to survive – what role should government play? This panel of experts at the Federalist Society’s 2014 National Lawyers Convention discussed the current regulatory environment and how government policies – particularly regarding …


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 …


Rediscovering Capture: Antitrust Federalism And The North Carolina Dental Case, Herbert J. Hovenkamp Apr 2015

Rediscovering Capture: Antitrust Federalism And The North Carolina Dental Case, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

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This brief essay analyzes the Supreme Court's 2015 decision in the North Carolina Dental case, assessing its implications for federalism. The decision promises to re-open old divisions that had once made the antitrust "state action" doctrine a controversial lightning rod for debate about state economic sovereignty.

One provocative issue that neither the majority nor the dissenters considered is indicated by the fact that nearly all the cartel customers in the Dental case were located within the state. By contrast, the cartel in Parker v. Brown, which the dissent held up as the correct exemplar of the doctrine, benefited California growers …


The Actavis Inference: Theory And Practice, Aaron S. Edlin, C. Scott Hemphill, Herbert J. Hovenkamp, Carl Shapiro Apr 2015

The Actavis Inference: Theory And Practice, Aaron S. Edlin, C. Scott Hemphill, Herbert J. Hovenkamp, Carl Shapiro

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In FTC v. Actavis, Inc., the Supreme Court considered "reverse payment" settlements of patent infringement litigation. In such a settlement, a patentee pays the alleged infringer to settle, and the alleged infringer agrees not to enter the market for a period of time. The Court held that a reverse payment settlement violates antitrust law if the patentee is paying to avoid competition. The core insight of Actavis is the Actavis Inference: a large and otherwise unexplained payment, combined with delayed entry, supports a reasonable inference of harm to consumers from lessened competition.

This paper is an effort to assist courts …


Antitrust And The Patent System: A Reexamination, Herbert J. Hovenkamp Jan 2015

Antitrust And The Patent System: A Reexamination, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

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Since the federal antitrust laws were first passed they have cycled through extreme positions on the relationship between competition law and the patent system. Previous studies of antitrust and patents have generally assumed that patents are valid, discrete, and generally of high quality in the sense that they further innovation. As a result, increasing the returns to patenting increases the incentive to do socially valuable innovation. Further, if the returns to the patentee exceed the social losses caused by increased exclusion, the tradeoff is positive and antitrust should not interfere. If a patent does nothing to further innovation, however, then …


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 …


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 …


Actavis And Error Costs: A Reply To Critics, Aaron S. Edlin, C. Scott Hemphill, Herbert J. Hovenkamp, Carl Shapiro Oct 2014

Actavis And Error Costs: A Reply To Critics, Aaron S. Edlin, C. Scott Hemphill, Herbert J. Hovenkamp, Carl Shapiro

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The Supreme Court’s opinion in Federal Trade Commission v. Actavis, Inc. provided fundamental guidance about how courts should handle antitrust challenges to reverse payment patent settlements. In our previous article, Activating Actavis, we identified and operationalized the essential features of the Court’s analysis. Our analysis has been challenged by four economists, who argue that our approach might condemn procompetitive settlements.

As we explain in this reply, such settlements are feasible, however, only under special circumstances. Moreover, even where feasible, the parties would not actually choose such a settlement in equilibrium. These considerations, and others discussed in the reply, serve to …


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

Implementing Antitrust's Welfare Goals, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

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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, …


Consumer Welfare In Competition And Intellectual Property Law, Herbert J. Hovenkamp Jan 2014

Consumer Welfare In Competition And Intellectual Property Law, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

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Whether antitrust policy should pursue a goal of "general welfare" or "consumer welfare" has been debated for decades. The academic debate is much more varied than the case law, however, which has consistently adopted consumer welfare as a goal, almost never condemning a practice found to produce an actual output reduction or price increase simply because productive efficiency gains accruing to producers exceeded consumer losses.

While some practices such as mergers might produce greater gains in productive efficiency than losses in consumer welfare, identifying such situations would be extraordinarily difficult. First, these efficiencies would have to be "transaction specific," meaning …


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 …


Institutional Advantage In Competition And Innovation Policy, Herbert J. Hovenkamp Sep 2013

Institutional Advantage In Competition And Innovation Policy, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

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In the United States responsibility for innovation policy and competition policy are assigned to different agencies with different authority. The principal institutional enforcers of patent policy are the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), the International Trade Commission (ITC), and the federal district courts as overseen by the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, and ultimately the Supreme Court. While competition policy is not an explicit part of patent policy, competition issues arise frequently, even when they are not seen as such.

Since early in the twentieth century antitrust courts have had to confront practices that …


Secondary-Line Differential Pricing And The Robinson-Patman Act, E. Thomas Sullivan, Herbert J. Hovenkamp, Howard A. Shelanski, Christopher R. Leslie Sep 2013

Secondary-Line Differential Pricing And The Robinson-Patman Act, E. Thomas Sullivan, Herbert J. Hovenkamp, Howard A. Shelanski, Christopher R. Leslie

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Because it is taught infrequently, the full text of Chapter 8 of our antitrust casebook, on the Robinson-Patman Act, is now posted online and free for anyone to use. This chapter covers all issues related to secondary-line enforcement, the "cost justification," "meeting competition," and other defenses, as well as buyers' liability. Primary-line enforcement is still covered with the materials on predatory pricing in Chapter 6.