Distribution, Competition, and Antitrust / IP Law

Quoted in Law (Competition) 360 on Leegin and Resale Price Maintenance

I was quoted in yesterday’s edition of Law360 in an article entitled “Kansas’ Take On Leegin Shows Risks Of Vertical Price Deals.”  You can find the article here (though the full article is behind a paywall).

iPad Document Management / Annotation Apps Reviewed

As stated on my “focus and purpose” page, one of the occasional focuses of this blog is iOS and iOS applications (from a lawyer-user’s perspective).  That subject and competition and distribution law may go together like — well, like chocolate and green peppers — but as they say, “it is what it is.”

I recently came across a nice review of several iPad document management and document annotation apps.  You can find it here.

The review is well done, although I don’t agree with all of it.  Full disclosure, I haven’t used PDF Expert, but perhaps I should try it out on the basis of the review.

I also don’t think GoodReader is that difficult to use.  In fact, I think the interface is pretty straightforward, and the app really excels at organizing and storing documents for later reading.  It’s very handy for avoiding having to carry around numerous case printouts, briefs, and pleadings.

I think I disagree most about iAnnotate.  I find it easy to use, and the best for actually annotating PDFs.  The app basically lets you mark up electronic PDFs as if you were applying pen to paper.  It works very well with a stylus.

The iMac app called Curio is also fantastic for organizing documents.  This blog post explains how one English lawyer uses it to handle and organize numerous documents and prepare for court.  If only Curio were available on iOS.

Is Privacy an Antitrust Issue?

Senator Al Franken says that the answer is “yes.”   (Hat tip to Ahmed Qadir, Director, Office of International Affairs, Competition Commission of Pakistan, for linking to the Senator’s article on the Readers of Antitrust and Competition Policy Blog group on linked in.com.)

Why?  According to the Senator,

“here’s where privacy becomes an antitrust issue.

If you don’t want your search results shared with other Google sites – if you don’t want some kind of super-profile being created for you based on everything you search, every site you surf, and every video you watch on YouTube – you will have to find a search engine that’s comparable to Google. Not easy.

If you want a free email service that doesn’t use your words to target ads to you, you’ll have to figure out how to port years and years of Gmail messages somewhere else, which is about as easy as developing your own free email service.

When a company is able to establish a dominant market position, consumers lose meaningful choices. You might not like that Facebook shares your political opinions with Politico, but are you really going to delete all the photos, all the posts, all the connections – the presence you’ve spent years establishing on the world’s dominant social network?

The more dominant these companies become over the sectors in which they operate, the less incentive they have to respect your privacy.

But the problem doesn’t stop there. Because accumulating data about you isn’t just a strange hobby for these corporations. It’s their whole business model. And you are not their client. You are their product.”

It’s an interesting argument.  The argument doesn’t reflect traditional antitrust teaching of the last 30 or so years, which focuses on the protection of competition, lower prices, and greater consumer product and service choice.  Antitrust law usually leaves consumer protection and privacy rights enforcement to other domains of the law.  My own personal view is that approach tends to be the right one, but there is certainly room for debate.

What do you think?

New Download Available — Tying Arrangements: Avoiding Antitrust Liability

Downloads

I’ve posted a new file in the Downloads section — my PowerPoint presentation covering tying arrangements.  It addresses how to leverage market power arguments and seller defenses, and specifically examines the development and history of U.S. tying law.  If you haven’t checked out the Downloads section yet, now’s a good time to do so.  Just click the Downloads navigation button in the menu bar above.  Or you can click here.

P.S.: to answer the question in my post below: regarding the webinar where I presented this file, a 50% discount doesn’t implicate the Robinson-Patman Act for several reasons: (i) the webinar is a service, not a commodity, and so R-P doesn’t apply; (ii) differential pricing to end-users not in competition with each other is usually not problematic; (iii) pricing offered days or weeks ago may not be contemporaneous with last-minute discounts; and (iv) the changing conditions defense probably also attaches.

New Download Available — Antitrust and IP

Downloads

I’ve posted a new file in the Downloads section — a PowerPoint presentation covering basic issues at the convergence of antitrust and intellectual property (IP).  If you haven’t checked out the Downloads section yet, now’s a good time to do so.  Just click the Downloads navigation button in the menu bar above.  Or you can click here.

Please Standby . . . .

Mydistributionlaw.com is taking a few days off.  Regularly-scheduled programming will resume next week.

(Of course I decided to take a few days off just as the government was preparing its new suit against Apple in the e-book space.  I’ll cover that development, plus continue the series on IP licensing issues, when “broadcasting” resumes.  I also am planning to look at issues regarding store shelf space — which are more interesting than one might think.)

Sunday Miscellany

California Antitrust and Unfair Competition Treatise

The California State Antitrust and Unfair Competition Law Treatise update is working its way towards publication.  Full disclosure: I am co-editing one chapter.

The kickstarter website is a fantastic resource to lower costs of entry and stimulate new product development.  The cosmonaut stylus for touch screens, a kickstarter “graduate,” is a really nice tool.

Regarding my recent post on industry disruption, here’s a link to a Minimal Mac article on using an iPhone as a personal computer.  Something like this wasn’t possible a mere five years ago.

Shameless self-plug: I’ll be speaking at a CLE webinar on “Tying Arrangements: Avoiding Antitrust Liability: Leveraging Market Power Arguments and Seller Defenses” on May 1.  More details to follow.

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