Computer Law & Security Review

Computational Antitrust: The Status Quo

Cartels and other anti-competitive behaviour by companies have a tremendously negative impact on the economy and, ultimately, on consumers. To detect such anti-competitive behaviour, competition authorities need reliable tools. Recently, new data-driven approaches have started to emerge in the area of computational antitrust that can complement already established tools, such as leniency programs. In this systematic review of case studies, Jan Amthauer, Jürgen Fleiß, Franziska Guggi and Vicky Robertson show how data-driven approaches can be used to detect real-world antitrust violations. Relying on statistical analysis or machine learning, ever more sophisticated methods have been developed and applied to real-world scenarios to identify whether an antitrust infringement has taken place. The review suggests that the approaches already applied in case studies have become more complex and more sophisticated over time, and may also be transferrable to further types of cases. While computational tools may not yet be ready to take over antitrust enforcement, they are ready to be employed more fully.

This is the first paper of the DataComp project, published in volume 49 of the Computer Law & Security Review. It is available in open access here:

New Textbook

New Textbook on EU Competition Law

Edited by Aleš Ferčič of the University of Maribor, a new textbook on European Union Competition Law was just published by Europa Law Publishing. This comprehensive textbook covering all major aspects of this intriguing part of Union law. It was prepared by a group of distinguished specialists from European universities, including Nataša Samec Berghaus, Stefan Krenn, Pieter Van Cleynenbreugel, José Caramelo Gomes, Martina Repas and Matjaž Tratnik. Vicky Robertson contributed a chapter on market definition. The book covers the various pillars of EU competition law that prevent unlawful restrictions of competition within the internal  market. The focus is on anti-competitive agreements, abuses of a dominant position,  mergers and state aid measures. Both substantive and procedural issues are covered, including not only public but also private enforcement. In addition, introductory chapters allow readers to immerse themselves in general concepts of EU competition law.

Obtain your copy here:

World Competition

Book Review

In the latest issue of World Competition, Klaudia Majcher published a review of the book ‘How Big Barons Smash Innovation: And How to Strike Back’ co-authored by Ariel Ezrachi and Maurice E. Stucke. This timely book brings into the spotlight how toxic innovations flourish in the digital economy and what should be done to enable the emergence of valuable innovations, particularly from an antitrust perspective. Klaudia’s review is based on her comments provided at the launch of Ezrachi’s and Stucke’s book that took place during the Vienna Competition Law Days in September 2022.

Antitrust in data

Antitrust in Data-Driven Markets: Austria

Together with Gerhard Fussenegger (bpv Hügel), Vicky Robertson authored a report on how Austria deals with data-driven markets under competition law. The report was written for the Ligue internationale du droit de la concurrence (LIDC) and published by Springer. It details the Austrian transaction value threshold for mergers, which was introduced in 2017 and aimed at catching digital mergers of competition law interest, as well as outlining some major trends in competition law enforcement in digital markets.

Salzburger Nachrichten

The Market Power of Big Tech

In an interview with Austrian newspaper Salzburger Nachrichten, Vicky Robertson discusses the market power of Big Tech, their anti-competitive behaviour, the importance of data for these markets, and the merger strategies that allow online conglomerates to sweep rising start-ups off the market. The interview (in German) can be accessed here.

Öster Zeitschrift für Kartellrecht

Looking Back at the Vienna Competition Law Days 2022

In the latest issue of the Austrian Competition Journal (Österreichische Zeitschrift für Kartellrecht), Franziska Guggi recaps the Vienna Competition Law Days 2022 and provides an overview of the discussion results. The contribution is in German and can be accessed here.

European Commission

Digital Merger Report for the European Commission

Vicky Robertson’s Report on digital technology mergers in EU Member States and the UK, commissioned by the European Commission’s Directorate General for Competition, was just published. In the Report, she analyses 97 national merger cases in digital and technology markets from EU Member States and the UK. Against the background of the growing concern about the market power of Big Tech, she identifies theories of harm repeatedly relied upon in the national decisional practice and remedies adopted. This allows her to draw initial conclusions for merger assessment in Europe. While digital ecosystems are increasingly acknowledged in national merger decisions, proper theories of harm on ecosystem envelopment are only being developed.

Read the full Report here:

Ecosystem Market Definition in Google Android

Ecosystem Market Definition in Google Android

The market definition in the General Court’s Google Android judgment paves the way for much-needed changes in analysing relevant markets in digital ecosystems - but also highlights some of the pitfalls that may come with this type of analysis. Vicky Robertson analyses how the General Court tackles this challenge, and also points to how ecosystem market definition may be incorporated in the ongoing review of the European Commission’s Market Definition Notice. The blog post is available here.


Doctrinal Challenges for EU Competition Law

At first sight, an approach to EU competition law that is more conscious about data protection as well as greener does not seem to share many traits. However, the insistence of both data and environmental protection on non-economic goals defies some of the more established logic of EU competition law. Against the background of the constitutional standing of data protection and environmental sustainability, Klaudia Majcher and Vicky Robertson analyse the challenges that the digitalisation and greening of the EU economy and society pose for competition law doctrine. It develops a taxonomy based on value alignment, value conflict, and value inclusion to better understand and frame the interaction between public policy goals, such as data protection and environmental sustainability, and competition law. This contribution, now published in the European Law Review, is part of the “Charting a Greener Future for European Competition Law” project funded by the Vienna University of Economics and Business.


Big Tech and the Federal Trade Commission

Ahead of the midterms in the US, Austrian newspaper Der Standard took stock of the first 15 months of Lina Khan’s leadership at the Federal Trade Commission. In an interview with Vicky Robertson, the focus was on the achievements the Federal Trade Commission has been able to secure in reigning in Big Tech, and the challenges ahead. Available here (in German).