Trinko: A Kinder, Gentler Approach to Dominant Firms Under the Antitrust Laws?
43 Pages Posted: 26 Oct 2006
In Trinko, the Supreme Court held that Verizon was not liable under the antitrust laws to a customer of rival AT&T for its failure to provide AT&T prompt access to the Verizon local phone network, which the plaintiff alleged caused it to experience inferior local phone service. In so holding, the court declined to embrace any bright-line rules addressing monopolistic refusals to deal. Moreover, rather than addressing the harmful effects of exclusionary behavior on consumers, the Court argued that lower courts should not be too quick to condemn monopolistic behavior because the lure of monopoly profits spurs innovation and new product development. The Supreme Court also underscored the institutional limitations of the court system, emphasizing that antitrust intervention is a daunting task that may lead to interminable litigation and possible multiple liability for defendants. The long-term effects of Trinko remain to be seen. In the short-term, Trinko has yet to gain traction in the lower courts. Trial courts continue to give close scrutiny to exclusionary acts by dominant firms.
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