The Federal Trade Commission announced the agenda for its Hearings initiative with three full-day sessions, co-sponsored with the Global Antitrust Institute and held at the Antonin Scalia Law School of George Mason University in Arlington, Virginia, on October 15-17, 2018.
The three-day event will examine the potential for collusive, exclusionary, and predatory conduct in multi-sided, technology-based platform industries. The sessions will also examine antitrust frameworks for evaluating acquisitions of nascent competitors or occurring in nascent markets, including in the technology and digital marketplace; and the approach to addressing antitrust issues regarding labor markets. A detailed agenda is available.
The Commission invites public comment on these issues, including the questions listed below. Comments can be submitted electronically no later than December 14, 2018.
Multi-Sided Platforms (Oct. 15, 16, and 17):
- What are the defining characteristics of multi-sided platforms? Is there a way to distinguish between multi-sided and single-sided businesses? Are any adjustments to antitrust analysis necessary to account for any special characteristics of multi-sided businesses?
- How should the courts and agencies define relevant antitrust markets and measure market power for multi-sided platform businesses?
- What is the relevance of network effects (direct and indirect) in multi-sided platform markets?
- How should the courts and agencies evaluate exclusionary conduct by firms competing in multi-sided platform markets, including predatory pricing, vertical restraints, most-favored nation clauses, and actions to undermine rivals who depend on platform infrastructure?
- Are there unique procompetitive justifications for these types of conduct by firms competing in multi-sided platform markets?
- What is the relevant legal precedent for evaluating antitrust concerns related to multi-sided platform businesses?
Antitrust in Labor Markets (Oct. 16):
- Is a lack of competition among employers a significant contributor to observed macroeconomic trends in labor markets, such as the declining labor share and/or real wage stagnation? What are other explanations for these trends?
- How should the agencies approach defining relevant labor markets for purposes of antitrust analysis? What (if any) reliable evidence is available on the existence and effect of employer concentration in properly defined labor markets?
- Does available evidence suggest a causal relationship between employer concentration and labor market outcomes, such as wage? Does this evidence suggest a change in antitrust enforcement is needed?
- Should the agencies and courts apply the consumer welfare standard to the analysis of monopsonistic labor markets in which firms are buyers and workers are sellers?
- How should the agencies and courts resolve cases where evidence suggests output in the product market is likely to increase, but employment and wages are likely to decline, because of reduced competition in a properly defined labor market?
Acquisitions of Nascent and Potential Competitors in Digital Technology Markets (Oct. 17):
- What is the appropriate antitrust framework to evaluate acquisitions of potential or nascent competitors in high-technology markets?
- Is current antitrust law sufficient to support the development of challenges to these types of acquisitions?
- How should the antitrust agencies evaluate whether a nascent technology is likely to develop into a competitive threat in dynamic, high-technology markets?
- What are some pragmatic approaches that the antitrust enforcement agencies could consider for enhancing their evaluation of these types of acquisitions?
Additional sessions of the FTC Hearings initiative will be held throughout the fall and early winter. An initial list of sessions and topics follows, and additional sessions and topics will be announced later:
October 23-24, 2018
FTC Constitution Center
- Innovation and Intellectual Property Policy
November 6-7, 2018
American University Washington College of Law
- Privacy, Big Data, and Competition
November 13-14, 2018
Howard University School of Law
- Algorithms, Artificial Intelligence, and Predictive Analytics
The FTC Hearings On Competition and Consumer Protection in the 21st Century will accommodate as many attendees as possible; however, admittance will be limited to seating availability. Reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities are available upon request. Request for accommodations should be submitted to Elizabeth Kraszewski via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (202) 326-3087. Such requests should include a detailed description of the accommodation needed. Please allow at least five days advance notice for accommodation requests; last minute requests will be accepted but may not be possible to accommodate.
Hearing #3 On Competition and Consumer Protection in the 21st Century
October 15-17, 2018
Antonin Scalia Law School, George Mason University
3351 Fairfax Drive, Arlington, VA 22201
Founders Hall Auditorium
(Note: This venue is within walking distance of the Virginia Square Metro Station)
The Federal Trade Commission develops policy initiatives on issues that affect competition, consumers, and the U.S. economy. Like the FTC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, read our blogs, and subscribe to press releases for the latest FTC news and resources.