Market definition in the digital economy

Anticompetitive practices

The US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit considers potential discrimination between taxis and transportation network providers (Illinois Transport Association / City of Chicago)
Office of Competition and Consumer Protection (Warsaw)
Sharing and traditional economy: matter of substitutability ... between cats and dogs?* Sharing economy firms are disrupting traditional industries across the globe. As Tom Goodwin once put it: “Uber, the world’s largest taxi company, owns no vehicles. Facebook, the world’s most popular media (...)

Unilateral Practices

The German Competition Authority prohibits a social network company in dominant position from combining its user data from different sources (Facebook)
German Competition Authority (Bonn)
Bundeskartellamt / Digital Economy Bundeskartellamt prohibits Facebook from combining user data from different sources* Bonn, 7 February 2019: The Bundeskartellamt has imposed on Facebook far-reaching restrictions in the processing of user data. According to Facebook’s terms and conditions (...)

The German Competition Authority finds that the data gathering practices of a social network are an abuse of its dominant position, and orders amendments in its data processing policy (Facebook)
Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
On 6 February 2019, the German Federal Cartel Office (“FCO”) concluded administrative proceedings concerning the data gathering practices of Facebook Inc., Facebook Ireland and Facebook Germany (together “Facebook”). The FCO found that Facebook abused its dominant position by making the private use (...)

The German Competition Authority orders a social network company to stop collecting and matching data of its users without explicit consent as it constitutes an abuse of dominance (Facebook)
Heinz & Zagrosek (Köln)
Bundeskartellamt hits „don’t like“-button on Facebook* On February 7, 2019, Germany’s Federal Cartel Office (“FCO”) issued its long-awaited decision in the Facebook case, see press release and background paper in English here. It qualifies Facebook’s current practice of collecting and matching data (...)

The Turkish Competition Authority holds that online sales channels exert competitive pressure in traditional sales channels in the market of sales of books (Doğan Müzik Kitap Mağazacılık ve Pazarlama)
ACTECON (Istanbul)
Should Traditional and Online Sales Channels Constitute Separate Relevant Markets? (The TCA’s D&R Decision) On November 23, 2018, the Turkish Competition Authority (“TCA”) published its reasoned decision (“D&R Decision”) concerning the investigation conducted against Doğan Müzik Kitap (...)

The EU Commission fines a tech company for illegal tying in the market for third-party mobile device manufacturing (Google Android)
Economists Incorporated (Washington)
European Commission Fines Google for Illegal Tying* The European Commission (“EC”) recently fined Google €4.34 billion, stating that “Google has imposed illegal restrictions on Android device manufacturers and mobile network operators to cement its dominant position in general internet search.” (...)

The EU Commission fines a multinational technology company for abuse of dominance by imposing illegal restrictions on device manufacturers and mobile network operators (Google Android)
DG COMP (Brussels)
Antitrust: Commission fines Google €4.34 billion for illegal practices regarding Android mobile devices to strengthen dominance of Google’s search engine* The European Commission has fined Google €4.34 billion for breaching EU antitrust rules. Since 2011, Google has imposed illegal restrictions (...)

The EU Commission fines a multinational technology company for abuse of dominant position in the smartphone operating system sector (Google Android)
Baker McKenzie (London)
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Baker McKenzie (Brussels)
On 18 July 2018 the European Commission imposed a record fine of €4.34 billion on Google. In such an innovative and competitive industry, a decision and fine on this scale arguably sends the wrong message. This update questions whether intervention risks reducing innovation, raising prices and (...)

The German Competition Authority indicates in its preliminary assessment of a possible abuse of dominance case that data collection and use from third-party sources is abusive (Facebook)
Heinz & Zagrosek (Köln)
Bundeskartellamt sends preliminary assessment to Facebook* On December 19, 2017, the Federal Cartel Office (“FCO”) published a press release on its preliminary assessment in the ongoing Facebook dominance probe, accompanied by a background paper (available in English here). The FCO considers (...)

The EU Commission considers comparison shopping services and advertising related practices (Google AdSense)
International Center for Law & Economics (Portland)
Everything is amazing - and no-one at the European Commission is happy* Since the European Commission (EC) announced its first inquiry into Google’s business practices in 2010, the company has been the subject of lengthy investigations by courts and competition agencies around the globe. (...)

The German Competition Authority issues a working paper on the market power of platforms and networks
German Competition Authority (Bonn)
Bundeskartellamt publishes working paper on "Market Power of Platforms and Networks"* The Bundeskartellamt has today published a working paper which deals with the "Market Power of Platforms and Networks" in the Internet. The report focuses on the factors relevant for assessing the market (...)

The French and German Competition Authority publish a joint study on competition law and data
French Competition Authority (Paris)
The French Autorité de la concurrence and the German Bundeskartellamt publish joint paper on data and its implications for Competition Law* The increasing collection, processing and commercial use of data in digital markets has prompted a broad debate about the role of data in corporate (...)

The Swedish Market Court dismisses an abuse of dominance action because the relatively scarce market data presented was not sufficient to define the relevant market and establish dominance (Pizza24 Nordic / OnlinePizza Norden)
Vinge (Stockholm)
Online Food For Thought* The Swedish Market Court’s judgment in Pizza24 / OnlinePizza A judgment of the Swedish Market Court from February 2015 is an unfortunate missed opportunity to grapple with interesting issues around online intermediary services. The case concerned online services for (...)

The Chinese High People’s Court of Guangdong issues a judgment on the definition of relevant market in an alleged abuse of dominance case in the IT sector (Qihoo / Tencent)
Renmin University of China
I. Introduction 1. Beijing Qihoo Technology Co., Ltd. (hereinafter referred to “Qihoo”) is the copyright owner and operator of 360 safe software. Tencent Technology (Shenzhen) Co., Ltd., and Shenzhen Tencent Computer System Co., Ltd. (hereinafter referred to “Tencent”) are respectively the (...)

The French Competition Auhtority issues an opinion concerning the dominant position of a search engine company in the market for online advertising (Google)
French Competition Authority (Paris)
The Autorité de la concurrence considers that Google holds a dominant position on the advertising market linked to search engines. It considers that competition law can apply limits to Google’s actions and provide a response to the competitive stakes brought to light by the actors, without the (...)

The Canadian Competition Tribunal dismisses allegations due to a refusal to deal under the amended Section 75 of the Canadian Competition Act (B-Filer / The Bank of Nova Scotia)
CRA International (Toronto)
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CRA International (Toronto)
Tribunal Dismisses B-Filer’s Refusal to Deal Application* On December 20, 2006, the Competition Tribunal released its decision in B-Filer Inc. v. The Bank of Nova Scotia, the first fully contested case under the amended Section 75 of the Competition Act and the first contested case brought as a (...)

The Swedish Market Court rejects a complaint against the incumbent for abusive mixed bundling and predatory pricing in the broadband internet access sector (B2 Bredband / TeliaSonera)
Cederquist (Stockholm)
Background Bredbandsbolaget sues Teliasonera for abuse of a dominant position on the market for fixed telephony through illegal mixed bundling, customer discrimination and predatory pricing but fails to prove dominance. Decision On 1 November 2005 the Swedish Market Court rendered its (...)

Mergers

The EU Commission clears a merger in the market of music recognition for smartphones, tablets and PCs (Apple / Shazam)
DG COMP (Brussels)
Mergers: Commission clears Apple’s acquisition of Shazam* The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition of Shazam by Apple. The Commission concluded that the merger would not adversely affect competition in the European Economic Area or any (...)

The French Competition Authority clears a merger on the online advertising market (Aufeminin / TF1)
French Competition Authority (Paris)
Online advertising* The Autorité de la concurrence clears the acquisition of Aufeminin by TF1 On 16 March 2018, TF1 notified the Autorité de la concurrence of its acquisition of sole control of Aufeminin. Following the consultation of competitors and TF1’s clients along with an analysis of the (...)

The EU Commission opens an in-depth investigation concerning a merger in the market of music recognition for smartphones, tablets and PCs (Apple / Shazam)
DG COMP (Brussels)
MERGERS: COMMISSIONS OPEN IN-DEPTH INVESTIGATION INTO APPLE’S PROPOSED ACQUISITION OF SHAZAM* The European Commission has opened an in-depth investigation to assess the proposed acquisition of Shazam by Apple under the EU Merger Regulation. The Commission is concerned that the merger could (...)

The French Competition Authority clears two separate mergers in the footwear distribution market (Monoprix / Sarenza ; Spartoo / André)
French Competition Authority (Paris)
FOOTWEAR DISTRIBUTION* The Autorité de la concurrence clears two separate acquisitions but which raise similar questions: Sarenza by Monoprix (Casino group) André by Spartoo On 16 March Monoprix, and subsequently on 4 April 2018, Spartoo notified the Autorité de la concurrence of two distinct (...)

The French Competition Authority opens an in-depth investigation concerning a merger in the online property advertising (SeLoger.com / Logic-Immo.com)
French Competition Authority (Paris)
ONLINE PROPERTY ADVERTISING* The Autorité de la concurrence has begun an in-depth examination as part of the review of the take-over of Concept Multimédia (Logic-Immo.com) by the Axel Springer group (SeLoger.com) The Axel Springer group, which is active mainly on the online property adverting (...)

The EU Commission conditionnaly clears a merger in the professional social network market (Microsoft / LinkedIn)
McDermott Will & Emery (Brussels)
European Commission Approves Microsoft Acquisition of LinkedIn Subject to Conditions* On 6 December 2016, the European Commission cleared the acquisition of LinkedIn by Microsoft, subject to Microsoft granting LinkedIn’s competitors access to certain LinkedIn tools. “BIG DATA” CONCERNS ANALYSED (...)

The EU Commission clears a merger subject to remedies on the professional social networks market (Microsoft / LinkedIn)
DG COMP (Brussels)
MERGERS: COMMISSION APPROVES ACQUISITION OF LINKEDIN BY MICROSOFT, SUBJECT TO CONDITIONS* The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition of LinkedIn by Microsoft. The decision is conditional on compliance with a series of commitments aimed at (...)

The French Competition Authority holds that the relevant market for retail distribution of electronic products comprises both physical and online stores (Fnac / Darty)
Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton (Rome)
THE FRENCH COMPETITION AUTHORITY HOLDS THAT THE RELEVANT MARKET FOR RETAIL DISTRIBUTION OF ELECTRIC PRODUCT COMPRISES BOTH PHYSICAL AND ONLINE STORES* On 18 July 2016, the French Competition Authority (FCA or the Authority) cleared the acquisition of Darty by the Fnac group, a move which will (...)

The French Competition Authority opens an in-depth investigation regarding a merger on the market of retail of cultural and electronic products (Fnac / Darty)
French Competition Authority (Paris)
THE AUTORITÉ DE LA CONCURRENCE IS OPENING A PHASE 2 EXAMINATION OF THE ACQUISITION OF THE DARTY COMPANY BY THE FNAC GROUP* On 17 February 2016, the Fnac group notified the Autorité of its proposed acquisition of the Darty company. Under its examination of the case, and following an initial (...)

The French Competition Authority clears a merger, subject to remedies, in the market of retail of cultural and electronic products (Fnac / Darty)
French Competition Authority (Paris)
RETAILING OF "BROWN" AND "GREY" PRODUCTS* The Autorité de la concurrence clears, subject to the divestiture of 6 stores in Paris and the Parisian region, the acquisition of the Darty company by the Fnac group On 17 February 2016, the Fnac group notified its project to take over Darty to the (...)

The German Competition Authority clears a merger in the online advertising sector (Ströer / OMS)
German Competition Authority (Bonn)
CLEARANCE OF TAKEOVER BU STÖER OF ONLINE MARKETING COMPANY OMS* In first phase proceedings the Bundeskartellamt has cleared plans by Ströer SE, Cologne, to acquire all the shares in OMS-Vermarktungs GmbH & Co. KG, Düsseldorf. The merger project affects the online advertising sector. Andreas (...)

The EU Commission approves the acquisition by rival of a data centre operator subject to the divestment of a number of data centres in Amsterdam, London and Frankfurt (Telecity / Equinix)
DG COMP (Brussels)
MERGERS: COMMISSION CLEARS ACQUISITION OF TELECITY BY EQUINIX, SUBJECT TO CONDITIONS* The European Commission has approved the proposed acquisition of data centre operator Telecity by rival Equinix subject to the divestment of a number of data centres in Amsterdam, London and Frankfurt. The (...)

The German Competition Authority clears a merger on the market of online real estate portals (Immonet / Immowelt)
German Competition Authority (Bonn)
CLEARANCE OF MERGER BETWEEN IMMONET AND IMMOWELT* In the first phase of merger control the Bundeskartellamt has cleared plans by Axel Springer SE, Berlin to acquire sole control of Immowelt AG, Nuremberg and the launch of a joint venture between Immowelt AG and Immonet GmbH, Hamburg. The (...)

The EU Commission approves without commitments an acquisition in the information technology sector (Facebook / WhatsApp)
Squire Patton Boggs (Brussels)
EU Commission approves Facebook’s acquisition of WhatsApp* On 3 October 2014, the European Commission of the European Union (the “Commission”) approved the acquisition without any commitments. After the approval of the acquisition of Skype by Microsoft in 2011 and of the acquisition of Nokia by (...)

The US Court of the Northern District of California rules against an acquisition of a competitor on the basis that it would lead to anticompetitive effects in the high-tech market (Bazaarvoice / PowerReviews) New
McDermott Will & Emery (Washington)
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McDermott Will & Emery (Brussels)
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McDermott Will & Emery (Düsseldorf)
JUDGE RULES IN FAVOR OF DOJ FINDING BAZAARVOICE/POWERREVIEWS MERGER ANTICOMPETITIVE* On January 8, 2014, Judge Orrick of the Northern District of California ruled that Bazaarvoice’s acquisition of competitor PowerReviews violated Section 7 of the Clayton Act. The ruling was in favor of the (...)

The EU General Court rejects a rival’s claim and gives the green signal for an acquisition in the communications services market (Microsoft / Skype)
Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas (New Delhi)
By its decision dated 11 December 2013, Luxembourg based European General Court approves the acquisition of Skype by Microsoft. Background On 02.09.2011 the EU Commission was notified of a proposed concentration by which, Microsoft Corporation, USA acquired 100% of the outstanding shares and (...)

The US DoJ challenges an acquisition by a market leader in product ratings and reviews the platforms of its alleged closest competitor (Bazaarvoice / PowerReviews)
Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati (Washington)
On January 10, 2013, the U.S. Department of Justice sued Bazaarvoice, Inc. alleging that its acquisition of PowerReviews, Inc. in June 2012 violated Section 7 of the Clayton Act. The complaint alleges that Bazaarvoice was the market leader for product ratings and reviews platforms (PRR (...)

The Chinese MOFCOM enforces telecoms regulations in merger review (Wal-Mart / Yihaodian)
Ingram Yuzek Gainen Carroll & Bertolotti (New York)
The notification for the Wal-Mart/Yihaodian transaction was submitted to China’s Ministry of Commerce on 16 December 2011. It was ultimately accepted on 16 February 2012 by MOFCOM after supplementation. At the expiration of the Phase III, or extended Phase II, period, on 13 August 2012, MOFCOM (...)

The French Competition Authority clears a merger in the e-commerce sector (Altarea / Rue du commerce)
French Competition Authority (Paris)
The Autorité de la Concurrence clears the acquisition of Rue du Commerce’s sole control by Altarea*. The Autorité de la concurrence examined the acquisition of Rue du Commerce by Altarea, by means of the acquisition of a bloc of shares and a public takeover bid on Rue du Commerce’s securities. (...)

The German Competition Authority blocks a joint‐venture for the creation of an online video on demand platform by the two leading German TV broadcasters (RTL / Pro7Sat1)
NOCON (London)
I. Transaction RTL and Pro7Sat1 planned to set up an online video on demand (VOD) platform which allows users toaccess and watch professional video content. The concept of the platform was to provide content that has already been transmitted on TV and can be accessed free of cost for seven (...)

The EU Commission clears in phase I a merger in the internet search market addressing the concept of concentration and conducting a detailed two-sided market analysis (Microsoft / Yahoo!)
Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom (Brussels)
Microsoft/Yahoo! – the concept of a concentration* The Commission’s recent decision approving Microsoft’s acquisition of Yahoo!’s Search Business (including internet search and search advertising) contains an interesting application of the definition of a concentration under the Merger Regulation. (...)

The EU Commission clears an acquisition in the online advertising market (Google / DoubleClick)
JG Associates (Brussels)
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DG COMP (Brussels)
"Mergers: main developments between 1 January and 30 April 2008"* On 11 March the Commission decided to clear the proposed acquisition of the online advertising technology company DoubleClick by Google, both based in the US. Google operates an internet search engine that offers search (...)

The EU Commission clears a merger in the online advertising market applying for the first time the non horizontal merger guidelines (Google / DoubleClick)
DG COMP (Brussels)
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DG COMP (Brussels)
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European Commission (Brussels)
"Google/DoubleClick: The first test for the Commission’s nonhorizontal merger guidelines"* I. Introduction The Google/DoubleClickmerger generated considerable interest as it concerned the ubiquitous search engine that most Europeans use in their daily lives. From a competition policy (...)

The French Minister of Economy sets out principles for the assessment of competition in markets that use Internet as media and conditionally clears in phase I a merger in the market for online classified advertisement (Spir / Schibsted)
RBB Economics (Brussels)
Introduction On 10 September 2007 the French Minister of Economy, Finances and Employment (hereafter the “Minister”) cleared the creation by Spir Communication and Schibsted ASA of a jointly owned company, subject to behavioural commitments (Decision C2007/19, hereafter “the Decision”). The new (...)

The US FTC prevents the closing of a merger between two major online job boards and suggests that relevant market is limited to online job services (Monster / Hotjobs)
WilmerHale (Washington)
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Williams & Connolly (Washington)
In June 2001, TMP Worldwide, owner of the dominant online job board “Monster.com,” agreed to purchase the second largest online job board, “HotJobs.” Rather than permitting the merger to go forward as scheduled, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) prevented the closing indefinitely until the parties (...)

Procedures

The Vice-President Margrethe Vestager announces the intention to launch the review of the Commission Notice on the definition of relevant market
Gomez Acebo & Pombo (Brussels)
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Gomez Acebo & Pombo (Brussels)
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Gomez Acebo & Pombo (Brussels)
On 9 December 2019, the Commission’s Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager announced the Commission’s intention to launch the review of the Commission Notice on the definition of relevant market for the purposes of Community competition law (‘the Notice’). The Notice dates back from 1997 and (...)

The Higher Regional Court of Düsseldorf suspends an order of the German Competition Authority on an alleged abuse of dominance in the social networks (Facebook)
Baker Botts (London)
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Baker Botts (Washington)
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Baker Botts (Brussels)
On 26 August 2019, a German appeal court suspended an order of the German competition authority (the “FCO”) which had found that Facebook’s data processing practices in Germany constituted an abuse of dominance in breach of German antitrust rules (the “decision”). Expressing serious doubts as to the (...)

Regulatory

The EU Commission publishes a report on competition policy for the digital sector
Hogan Lovells (Brussels)
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Hogan Lovells (Brussels)
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Hogan Lovells (Brussels)
On 4 April 2019, the European Commission published the much anticipated Report Competition Policy for the digital era (hereinafter referred to as the "Report"). Authored by a panel of special advisers (all academics) appointed by Competition Commissioner, Margrethe Vestager, the Report explores (...)

The EU Commission publishes a report on competition policy for the digital era
Simmons & Simmons (London)
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Simmons & Simmons (London)
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Simmons & Simmons (London)
On 04 April 2019, the European Commission (EC) published a report commissioned by the EU’s Competition Commissioner, Margrethe Vestager. The report looks at how competition policy should continue to evolve in the digital age and is written jointly by an economist, a lawyer and an engineer. The (...)

The EU Commission publishes a report on competition policy for the digital era
Norton Rose Fulbright (Brussels)
“Digital Era” Report Bolsters Commissioner Vestager’s Digital Legacy* On April 4, 2019, the European Commission published a report by Jacques Crémer, Yves-Alexandre de Montjoye, and Heike Schweitzer on competition policy for the digital era (the Digital Era Re port, or the Report), the culmination (...)

The OECD holds a roundtable on blockchain technology and competition policy
OECD - Competition Division
1. Introduction 1. Blockchain is a general-purpose technology that threatens to disrupt markets and institutions across the world. Where the internet enabled the publishing and digital transfer of information, blockchain authenticates the ownership of assets, makes them unique, traceable, and (...)

The German Competition Authority publishes discussion paper on internet platforms in merger control, contractual restrictions of competition and abuse of dominance scenarios
Heinz & Zagrosek (Köln)
The FCO publishes discussion paper on internet platform markets* On October 1, 2015, the FCO published a paper entitled “Digital economy – internet platforms between competition law, privacy and consumer protection” on the occasion of a conference of the working group competition law (consisting (...)

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