Previous article Next article

See version in english Competition Law and Regulation of Technology Markets, Kevin COATES

COATES Kevin, Oxford Press, 2011, 417 p.

Competition Law and Regulation of Technology Markets, Kevin COATES

Kevin Coates

This admirable book focuses primarily on the application of competition and related laws on both sides of the Atlantic to technology markets. To this reviewer’s knowledge, it is the first book to do so, and in light of the economic significance of technology markets and of the competition cases addressing them, it is a highly useful addition to the literature.

The book begins with a concise discussion of the basic objectives and economic underpinnings of competition law and regulation generally and then turns to a brief introduction to EU and US competition laws. While short, these introductions could be helpful to a reader unfamiliar with one or the other regime and provide a backdrop to the more specific discussion of the application of these laws to technology markets.

Mr. Coates then turns to a comparative discussion of EU and US law on the application of competition law to pricing behavior, including in particular with respect to predatory pricing, rebates and discounts, margin squeezes and excessive pricing. This section cogently presents the economic principles applied in pricing cases and the significant cross-Atlantic differences in the pricing area.

Next comes a relatively lengthy chapter on intellectual property, beginning with an introduction to EU and US patent and copyright law and a detailed discussion of the protection of software, and then turns to the relationship between intellectual property and competition laws. Perhaps inevitably, in light of its current economic significance and the attention paid to it by antitrust enforcers, the literature in this area is becoming rather crowded. Drawing on his deep involvement in the key EU cases in this area, Mr. Coates nonetheless makes an important contribution to this literature by elucidating the considerations underlying EU policy on the relationship between intellectual property and competition laws.

Mr. Coates then turns to a related area in which he has personally been active, namely the application of competition law to standard-setting organizations and companies’ behaviour related to standard-setting and licensing of relevant intellectual property. This chapter provides a rather comprehensive analysis of the law in this area, addressing it n some detail, including issues such as the permissibility of mandatory ex ante disclosures of licensing terms by standard-setting participants, failures to disclose essential IPRs, the meaning of FRAND commitments, and the circumstances under which a licensing price might be excessive. It addresses cases such as Dell, Rambus, and Qualcomm.

This chapter also provides an enlightening analysis of issues related to interoperability and refusals to provide access to (and license IP reading on) de facto standards, focusing inter alia on the EU Microsoft case and the differences in EU and US law in this realm.

The book rounds out its discussion of competition law and technology markets with an extremely interesting and insightful analysis of the EU and US cases related to "product design and innovation", particularly in the context of the EU and US tying cases involving Microsoft’s Media Player and Internet Explorer products.

Finally, Mr. Coates turns his attention to two other important areas of regulation of technology markets, namely the regulation of networks and data protection (including the relationship between data protection and competition rules).

One consistent and welcome aspect of this book is its focus on economics and its application in contemporary competition cases related to technology. The analysis is not stuck in the past, but focuses on up-to-date economic thinking and anticipates how that thinking might be applied going forward.

Apart from its substantive depth, this book benefits from a fluent writing style : for a book on the law, it’s a real page-turner. For someone interested in the topic of technology markets and competition law, this book is no remedy for sleeplessness. It races through the key topics in a rather exciting way, without sacrificing substance. Not an easy feat.

PDF Version


  • Clifford Chance (Brussels)


Thomas Vinje, Competition Law and Regulation of Technology Markets, Kevin COATES, February 2012, Concurrences Review N° 1-2012, Art. N° 42031, p. 259

Editor OUP Oxford

Date 7 April 2011

Number of pages 448

All reviews