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Antitrust

Information Technology and Innovation Foundation Brings Global Antitrust Experts Together in Videoconference

Adrienne Patton

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Photo of Rob Atkinson by the WTO used with permission

March 26, 2020 – Washington groups focusing on broadband and technology policy are beginning to adapt to the all-livestream format – and recognizing some unique benefits – such a fluid global interconnectedness.

For example, in the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation’s Thursday antitrust seminar on Zoom, the group hostedSt Mary’s University Senior Lecturer in Law Aurelien Portuese  from France and Berkeley Research Group Chairman David Teece, who was in New Zealand.

While it was 4:30 in the morning in New Zealand when Teece joined, and with Portuese was tuning in during the evening, engaging in robust conversations with panelists 12 hours apart may quickly become the new normal for policy experts during the coronavirus pandemic and beyond.

Portuese and Teece teased out the shortcomings of current antitrust laws—laws that Teece deems ripe for alteration.

Antitrust is “excessively precautionary,” said Portuese.

“Clearly, this precautionary approach is dangerous,” and the innovation principles should be “embraced,” said Portuese.

Teece sees two main issues with antitrust policies in the United States and Europe. Antitrust is “excessively static and short-run, and it’s not integrated with trade policy,” said Teece.

“Innovation supports competition,” which is grossly misunderstood, argued Teece.

Consumer welfare should be examined in the long-term, said Teece.

China is only serious about global competition and economic strength, said Teece. China uses antitrust as a “tool against foreign competitors.”

Teece chastised the United States for being naïve when it comes to China.

Teece advocated a wholescale rethinking of antitrust law. Lawmakers and governments around the world have been hyper-focused on big tech recently. But big tech is still competing “vigorously” against each other, said Teece.

Competition in the “digital economy” is entirely different, and those who decry monopolies, are missing the point, said Teece.

“Antitrust is too short-term,” agreed ITIF President Robert Atkinson.

Panelists agreed that innovation is siloed, and antitrust should focus on innovation and long-term variables.

Antitrust regulators must accept “the very idea of non-evidenced efficiency gains” because “innovation is hard to demonstrate,” insisted Portuese, arguing that innovation is “subtle.”

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