Blockchain + Antitrust: The Decentralization Formula, Thibault SCHREPEL

Thibault Schrepel

This section selects books on themes related to competition laws and economics. This compilation does not attempt to be exhaustive but rather a survey of themes important in the area. The survey usually covers publication over the last three months after publication of the latest issue of Concurrences. Publishers, authors and editors are welcome to send books to catherine.prieto@univ-paris1.fr for review in this section.

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Few studies have so far looked at blockchain technology in detail through the prism of competition law. Thibault Schrepel, professor at VU Amsterdam and affiliated professor at Stanford University’s CodeX Center, has attempted to do so in his book entitled Blockchain + Antitrust: The Decentralization Formula. He gives an overview of this technology and identifies the competitive issues raised by its development. The author invites us to go beyond the a priori antinomic analysis of law and technology and underlines the advantages of a cooperative approach of these two spheres, in the specific framework of the relationship between blockchain and competition rules.

The study first traces the history and ideology behind blockchain technology. The author presents the functioning and characteristics of blockchain, and then demonstrates how it contributes to a common objective, along with both American and European competition rules, that of preserving the ability of agents to act freely on the market. In spite of this common objective, the author underlines the points of friction between the blockchain and this body of rules and in particular the risk of anti-competitive practices generated by the use of this technology.

The second part of the book is devoted to the question of the applicability of competition rules and, in particular, to the question of the qualification as a company of this mode of association not defined by law. On the basis of a technical analysis of the different types of blockchains and their modes of governance, the author explains how the notion of enterprise does not seem to be able to grasp the specificities of this technology. He then introduces a new theory ("the theory of granularity") which, in addition to solving the question of the imputability of the practice, would facilitate the determination of the relevant market and the analysis of market power. The following discussion describes the different types of practices and the various forms of transactions that could fall within the scope of anti-competitive practices law and merger control law.

In the third and final part of the book, the author presents the benefits of a collaborative approach to the blockchain-competition rules pair. The latter should be applied to the former without compromising its development. Theoretical and practical avenues are proposed in order to achieve this goal.

Thibault Schrepel has the merit of having successfully confronted the study of a technology that is difficult to understand for a lawyer by training. His book is certainly useful for any researcher or professional interested in the blockchain ecosystem.

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Author

  • University of Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne

Quotation

Elsa Haïm, Blockchain + Antitrust: The Decentralization Formula, Thibault SCHREPEL, February 2022, Concurrences N° 1-2022, Art. N° 105274, pp. 252

Publisher Edward Elgar Publishing

Date 8 October 2021

Number of pages 304

ISBN 9781800885523

Visites 300

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