Rapid technological development, particularly in the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector, has led to a significant change in the industrial structure as well. Regulatory bodies world over are struggling to adjust to these changing scenarios. There is a widespread discussion regarding the need to regulate technology-driven markets such as e-commerce, telecommunication, etc. The practices used by some business giants are going against the neoclassical economic theory that profit maximisation is the goal of every firm. Firms are opting growth over profit. A large number of investigations were opened in India against business giants. Some of them were able to find contraventions of the Competition Act, 2002 (the Act). However, a large number of investigations were closed due to the lack of cognizance of collective dominance in law or inability to prove dominance in the traditional economic sense. It can be seen from the current jurisprudence of the Competition Commission of India (CCI) that there are constraints in handling competition issues in technology-driven industries mainly on account of the extant legal framework which does not recognise the need of assessing an appreciable adverse effect on competition where the dominance of the firm is not apparent. Although, the Act takes into account attempt to cartelisation as a contravention of the Act, it does not envisage an attempt to monopolise as a contravention of the Act. The past and current jurisprudence of the CCI indicates that CCI’s view is also undergoing radical change. This paper discusses the concept of “attempt to monopolise” as given in the Sherman Act and its applicability in the Indian context. The paper reviews the American antitrust literature existing on this subject and analyses the key factors which constitute antitrust violations under the clause “attempt to monopolise”. While the majority view emphasises on proving dangerous probability of success while determining an attempt to monopolise, as per the minority view, “attempt” connotes conduct and not a state of being. Unlawful intent can be inferred from the conduct as a proof of an “attempt”. The law does not require completion of a crime, it requires conduct. Thus, an attempt to monopolise is a conduct offence. This paper argues that borrowing the attempt to monopolise concept from the Sherman Act, 1890 will be helpful for the CCI in handling antitrust cases in technology-driven industries such as e-commerce, telecommunications, transport, etc.
It will go a long way in achieving competitive markets, increased consumer choice and welfare in the long-run.
- Argentesi, E., Buccirossi, P., Calvano, E., Duso, T., Marrazzo, A., and Nava, S. (2020, March). Tech-over: Mergers and merger policy in digital markets. VoxEU & CEPR. https://voxeu.org/article/mergers-and-merger-policy-digital-markets
- Bjorkman, John C. (1982). Comments: Attempt to Monopolize: Dangerous Probability of Success as an Obstacle to Enforcing Section 2 of the Sherman Act. University of Puget Sound Law Review, pp. 286-306.
- Anno, C. (2014), EU and US Antitrust: Converging Approaches to Monopolies? Droit Law Concurrences.
- CNN (2002, January 22). Amazon Posts a Profit. CNN Money. http://perma.cc/SMF3-2UCK.
- Clement, J. (2020, May 25). Net sales of Amazon in leading markets 2014-2019. Statista. https://www.statista.com/statistics/672782/net-sales-of-amazon-leading-markets/ accessed on 02.09.2020.
- Cremer, Jacques, Montjoye, Yves-Alexandre de and Helke, Schweitzer, (2019),Competition Policy for the Digital Era. European Union.
- Fox, Eleanor M. (2008, September 28). An Antitrust Fable – A Table of Predation. Concurrences: Antitrust Publications and Events.
- Fox, Eleanor M. (1980). Monopoly and Competition: Tilting the law Towards a More Competitive Economy. Washington and Lee Law Review, Volume 37, Issue 1 Winter.
- Hamilton, N.W. and Caulfield, Anne M. (1984). The Defense of Natural Monopoly in Sherman Act Monopolization Cases. De Paul Law Review, Volume 33, Issue 3 Spring.
- Handler, Milton and Steuer, Richard M. (1980). Attempts to monopolize and No-Fault Monopolization. University of Pennsylvania Law Review, Volume 129, pp. 125-191.
- Hawk, Barry. (1972). Attempts to monopolize - Specific intent as Antitrust’s Ghost in Machine. Cornell Law Review, Volume 58. Fordham Law School.
- Khan, L. M. (2017). Amazon’s Antitrust Paradox. The Yale Law Journal, Vol 126.
- Marc, Bourreau and Streel, Alexandre de. (2019, March). Digital Conglomerates and EU competition Policy.
- Pandey, N. and Sharma, S. (2020, January 17). 3 years after launch, Jio becomes No.1 telco by user base, revenue. The Mint.https://www.livemint.com/industry/telecom/reliance-jio-is-the-largest-telco-in-india-trai-11579180602386.html
- Parbat, K. (2019, August 28). Jio tops market with 31.7 per cent revenue share. The Economics Times. https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/industry/telecom/telecom-news/jio-tops-market-with-31-7-revenue%20share/articleshow/70867883.cms?from=mdr
- Ponsoldt, James F. (1986). Clarifying the attempt to Monopolize offence as an alternative to protectionist Legislation: The Conditional Relevance of Dangerous probability of success. Notre Dame Law Review, Volume 61, Issue 5.
- TWN (2019, July 16). Big Tech’s control of consumer data raises concerns. Third World Network (TWN). https://twn.my/title2/wto.info/2019/ti190722.htm accessed on 30.07.2020.
- UNCTAD (2019, May 1). Competition issues in the digital economy. Note by the UNCTAD secretariat. United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNTAD). https://unctad.org/meetings/en/SessionalDocuments/ciclpd54_en.pdf
- US Department of Justice (2008). Single Firm Conduct and Section 2 of the Sherman Act: An Overview. Chapter 1 in Competition and Monopoly: Single-Firm Conduct Under Section 2 of the Sherman Act.
- Wu, Tim. (2018). The Curse of Bigness: Antitrust in the New Gilded Age.Columbia Global Reports.