Silicon Valley Antitrust

Hanno Kaiser U.C. Berkeley, Boalt Hall School of Law, Spring 2012

Friday 8 - 9:50 am, Room 10

Evolving Syllabus! Please check out the latest version

Textbooks:

Class 1: Introduction; Google Search and Google+ (January 13, 2012)

On January 10, 2012, Google started integrating Google+ into the Google search engine. Is this connection between two services (search and social networking) an antitrust problem? This recent development will serve as the launching pad for our discussion of the “Google Antitrust Universe.”

a. Topics for discussion

b. Required reading

c. Optional reading

Class 2: The Microsoft Universe, Part 1 (January 20, 2012)

The Microsoft cases in the U.S. and the EC are among the most important precedents for high-technology antitrust. They address key questions of market definition, multi-sided platforms, product integration, offensive and defensive uses of monopoly power, and remedies. We will examine the Microsoft cases in depth and use them as the backdrop against which to examine more recent matters.

a. Topics for discussion

b. Required reading

c. Optional reading

Class 3: The Microsoft Universe, Part 2 (January 27, 2012)

a. Topics for discussion

b. Required reading

c. Optional reading

Class 4: The Microsoft Universe, Part 3 (February 3, 2012)

a. Topics for discussion

b. Required reading

c. Optional reading

Class 5: High-tech labor markets: No-“cold call” agreements? (February 10, 2012)

Employee-plaintiffs claim that their employers agreed not to cold-call each others’ employees. Sensible self-regulation or unlawful horizontal coordination?

a. Topics for discussion:

b. Required reading

c. Optional reading

Class 6: The law of “predatory innovation”. Showdown in the CPU industry: FTC and EC v. Intel. (February 17, 2012)

a. Topics for discussion

(1) Did Intel abuse its dominant position in the x86 CPU market by using various business tactics and technological design choices aimed at (i) defending its CPU monopoly and (ii) extending its CPU monopoly into the GPU market?

(2) A builds disk drives for B’s mainframes. B changes the interface. A’s disk drives are obsolete. Innovation or predation?

(3) A builds audio chips for smartphones. B builds graphics processors. B includes audio functionality into its new graphics processor. A’s business tanks. Efficient integration or anticompetitive foreclosure?

(4) B sells audio, graphics, and sensor modules. A sells audio modules only. B gives its customers a 25% across the board rebate if they buy all three components from B. A can’t match the discount on audio modules alone. Good deal for the buyer or below-cost bundled pricing?

b. Required reading:

c. Optional reading

Class 7: Abuse of standard-essential patents (February 24, 2012)

a. Topics for discussion

b. Required reading

c. Optional reading

Class 8: Patent portfolio acquisitions (March 2, 2012)

a. Topics for discussion

b. Required reading

Classes 9 and 10: Open v. closed systems (Part 1 & 2) (March 16, 2012)

(1) “Open systems win.” Jonathan Rosenberg, Google.

(2) “Open systems [are] good for making others lose.” John Prentice, Gartner.

(3) “Closed systems are prima facie suspect, while open systems can never be an antitrust problem." Useful antitrust rule or analytical fallacy?

(4) A sells games for B’s gaming console. B starts requiring pre-approval of the game concept and final approval of the finished game as a condition for a license to B’s console. Sensible quality control measure or monopolization of the aftermarket for B-console games?

a. Topics for discussion

b. Required reading

c. Optional reading

Class 11: Mergers: Differentiated and future products, Part 1 (March 23, 2012)

A acquires B. Some customers say that B’s pipeline products would likely be a good alternative to A’s products, but B’s products are more likely to make it to market if they are supported by A’s R&D and distribution infrastructure. Efficient merger to ensure that new products come to market more quickly and with greater certainty or substantial lessening of future competition?

a. Topics for discussion include:

b. Required reading

c. Optional reading

Class 12: Mergers: Differentiated and future products, Part 2 (April 6, 2012)

a. Topics for discussion include:

b. Required reading

c. Optional reading

Class 13: Open source & social networks (April 13, 2012)

a. Topics for discussion include:

a. Reading materials

b. Optional reading

c. Seriously optional reading

Class 14: Mergers affecting future products and the DOJ complaint in re eBooks (April 20, 2012)

a. Required reading

b. Optional reading

Class 15: Review session (April 27, 2012)

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U.C. Berkeley, Silicon Valley Antitrust Syllabus by Hanno Kaiser is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.