Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Google & Competition Law II

It occurs to me that there is a very good non-Internet analogy in the free newspapers that are given away at train and bus stations all over Europe every day. (Like Metro.) There, too, we have a product that is given away for free, financed by advertising paid for by someone else. The only difference is that these free newspapers compete with ordinary goods, i.e. with paid-for newspapers. As a result, it is not entirely clear that free newspapers form a distinct product market, as opposed to being part of the overall market for daily newspapers. Looking at the Commission's definition, as taken from the relevant secondary law

"A relevant product market comprises all those products and/or services which are regarded as interchangeable or substitutable by the consumer, by reason of the products' characteristics, their prices and their intended use. (Notice on market definition, par. 7.)"

we would conclude that daily newspapers are a single product market, which makes it a less than perfect analogy for search engines, which do not compete with a paid alternative. Nevertheless, it would be interesting to know if there is any case law regarding this "market", possible from a national competition authority.

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