Antitrust issues in e-commerce

April 7, 2021

The growth of e-commerce and “tech” firms has affected the economy and consumers in many significant ways. There is renewed interest by the media, academia, and government in the role that tech companies play in facilitating or hindering the exchange of goods, services, resources, innovation, and ideas.

Furthermore, the growth of technology has significantly affected antitrust and competition analysis. The importance of innovation, the dynamic nature of the tech sector, the blurring of the lines between online and “brick-and-mortar” businesses have made antitrust analysis more complex and added additional uncertainty, requiring a careful approach by antitrust practitioners, regulators, and legislators that can balance the long-term and short-term incentives to innovate and compete.

Because of the sheer size of the subject matter, this paper will only scratch the surface of many complex issues and leave others outside of its scope. In particular, this paper focuses on “market definition,” analyses aimed at identifying all market competitors in a given segment, and the analysis of entry and growth. What emerges is that while e-commerce has generally benefited consumers and promoted competition, it has also rendered antitrust analysis and competition policy more complex, dynamic, and perhaps uncertain.

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