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Your Weekly Digest | Issue 229

Valur Thrainsson
6 min read

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Here below, you find the most recent and relevant competition and anti-trust news, blogs and journal publications over the last week.

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Asda takeover 'could lead to higher petrol prices' - BBC News

Prices could rise in some parts of the UK after the supermarket's takeover, the competition watchdog says.

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Apple and Google ‘hold data hostage’ and stifle competition, Senate told | The Guardian
Spotify, Tile and Match aired their grievances against the companies at a Senate antitrust hearing
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A federal grand jury in the Eastern District of Texas returned a superseding indictment charging two Texas men with conspiring to fix prices by lowering rates paid to certain health care workers and then conspiring and endeavoring to obstruct a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) investigation of their conduct. Read more.
Today, the Bundeskartellamt, the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) have agreed on a joint statement on merger control. The joint statement reflects the common understanding of all three authorities that consistent merger enforcement is the key to preserve competition and diversity. The agency heads Andreas Mundt (President of the Bundeskartellamt), Andrea Coscelli (Chief Executive of the CMA) and Rod Sims (Chairman of the ACCC) met at a virtual conference to discuss joint challenges for merger control like the digital economy, globalisation and the impact of COVID-19. Read more.
The European Commission (“Commission”) is expanding its jurisdiction over transactions by encouraging national competition authorities (“NCAs”) of the EU Member States to ‘refer’ certain transactions to it that fall below the thresholds for mandatory notification at the EU and the national level. On 26 March 2021, the Commission published guidance (“Guidance”) setting out referrals that are ‘encouraged’ and how and when it will accept such referrals. This development has not required legislative changes (which would have taken some time and also required unanimity among EU Member States) but rather the Commission is resuscitating an existing provision, the so-called “Dutch clause”, namely Article 22 of the EU Merger Regulation (“EUMR”). Read more.
The Super League (SL) might have had the lifespan of a fly, the legal questions it raised will linger on. These legal issues are of particular importance for other sports, considering that comparable questions have been raised in European American football and basketball. Therefore, the legal issues associated with the SL have the potential to... Read more.
I was privileged to speak, yesterday, at the conference jointly organised by UCL and White & Case, which was devoted to the Moving Boundaries of Competition Law. With James Killick as chair, I … Read more.
On 24 March 2021, the Cartel Senate of the Düsseldorf Higher Regional Court heard the case of Bundeskartellamt v. Facebook, case number VI Kart 2/19 [V]. The hearing ended spectacularly with the announcement of a referral to the European Court of Justice. Today, the specific questions to the ECJ were published. Rupprecht Podszun had a look at the referral and has also tried to find out what has happened since the hearing. Read more.
On Tuesday, Apple announced the release of AirTag, a small, electronic tracker people can attach to keys, a piece of luggage, or anything, really, and then use Apple’s Find My system to find that item. For Apple fans, it’s another handy product. But for Tile, the maker of a similar tracker, the long-awaited announcement is another sign of Apple’s anti-competitive behavior. Read more.
Tommaso Valletti
“Academic engagement” of Big Tech: that job should exist. But it won’t happen, unless we get a new mindset among regulators and researchers. Read more.
Melody Wang, Fiona Scott Morton
The Trump-era DOJ’s decision to allow the T-Mobile/Sprint merger will go down as one of the worst merger-enforcement mistakes in decades. Read more.
An interview with Tommaso Valletti, who served as Chief Competition Economist at the European Commission from 2016 until 2019.  He tells us how, after moving from academic life to policy and being confronted with questions [...] Read more.
John Vickers
This lecture provides a selective discussion of some issues in the economics of competition for imperfect consumers. Limited consumer awareness – about what deals are on offer, or about the consequences of purchasing decisions – is a central feature of many markets. Consumer imperfection can give rise to market power, but can also co-exist with strong rivalry between firms, and then is more for ‘consumer policy’ than competition policy. Read more.
Carl Shapiro
This article offers a practical guide to analyzing vertical mergers using the general approach to input foreclosure and raising rivals’ costs described in the 2020 Vertical Merger Guidelines issued by the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission. The step-by-step analysis described here draws lessons from how that theory of harm played out in the lone vertical merger case litigated by the antitrust agencies in recent decades, namely the 2018 challenge by the Department of Justice to the merger between AT&T and Time Warner. Read more.
Mansee Teotia and Manish Sanwal
The interface between Intellectual Property Rights and Competition Law has remained a moot point in several jurisdictions including India. There have been conflicting views regarding powers of the Competition Commission to exercise its jurisdiction over Patentee’s right to exclude his/her competitors from using its patented technology. This question again came up before the Hon’ble High Court of Delhi in a recent case of Monsanto v Competition Commission of India.  Read more.
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Kind regards, Valur Þráinsson, Founder of CompetitionFeed.com. Email: valur@competitionfeed.com
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