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Antitrust Innovation, and Product Design in Platform Markets: Microsoft and Intel

William H. Page, Seldon J. Childers, Forthcoming Antitrust Law Journal.
NB: This article has been nominated by readers for the academic category, unilateral conducts section of the 2012 Antitrust Writing Awards. Click here for all winning-awards articles

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Readers vote is closed since March 1st, 2012. Readers’ vote has nominated 2 articles for each of the Awards. This short list has been communicated to the Board, with the articles nominated by the Steering Committees. The Board will decide on the award-winning articles on March 27, at the Awards ceremony to take place in DC. See vote results online here.

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The Antitrust Division’s Microsoft case and the Federal Trade Commission’s Intel case both rested on claims that antitrust intervention was necessary to preserve innovation in technological platforms at the heart of the personal computer. Yet, because those very platforms support markets that are among the most innovative in the American economy, injudicious intervention might well have jeopardized the very innovation that antitrust should promote. In this article, we review the role of platforms in technological innovation and consider how antitrust standards should apply to them. We then examine how Microsoft resolved antitrust issues affecting platform design at various stages of the litigation and show how that experience informed the allegations and the settlement in Intel. We are particularly concerned with the parallel claims in the two cases that Microsoft and Intel each used its control over the design of a dominant platform to hinder innovations that might have made a complementary product a better substitute for the platform. This exercise should help guide future applications of monopolization standards to high technology platforms.

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