Understanding Online Markets and Antitrust Analysis

13 Pages Posted: 26 Jul 2016 Last revised: 12 Oct 2017

See all articles by D. Daniel Sokol

D. Daniel Sokol

USC Gould School of Law; USC Marshall School of Business

Jingyuan Ma

Central University of Finance and Economics (CUFE)

Date Written: May 15, 2017


Antitrust analysis of online markets is a hot topic around the world. In a number of jurisdictions, online markets already have been subject to antitrust review in merger or conduct cases. In other jurisdictions, these issues are in a nascent stage of policy. A number of lessons can be learned from the cases to date involving online markets with regard to optimal antitrust policy. What these cases tend to share are some basic features as to how online markets work. Some jurisdictions understand the particular dynamics of multi-sided online markets. Other competition authorities sometimes may misidentify these markets. This essay outlines four areas in which online markets may be different from traditional markets for antitrust purposes. The essay also explores why such markets require a more careful consideration from antitrust authorities and courts in their respective antitrust analyses.

Keywords: antitrust, high tech, two sided markets, mergers, monopolization, market definition, technology, innovation

JEL Classification: K21, L40, O38

Suggested Citation

Sokol, D. Daniel and Ma, Jingyuan, Understanding Online Markets and Antitrust Analysis (May 15, 2017). 15 Northwestern Journal of Technology and Intellectual Property 43 (2017), University of Florida Levin College of Law Research Paper No. 17-22, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2813855 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2813855

D. Daniel Sokol (Contact Author)

USC Gould School of Law ( email )

699 Exposition Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90089
United States

USC Marshall School of Business ( email )

701 Exposition Blvd
Los Angeles, CA California 90089
United States

Jingyuan Ma

Central University of Finance and Economics (CUFE) ( email )

39 South College Road
Haidian District
Beijing, Beijing 100081

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