Changing Antitrust Landscape

The United States Department of Justice Antitrust Division has signaled a change in how the federal government will be looking at anticompetitive behavior.  According to a press release issued today, “the Department is withdrawing, effective immediately, a report relating to monopolization offenses under the antitrust laws that was issued in September 2008. As of today, the Section 2 report will no longer be Department of Justice policy. Consumers, businesses, courts and antitrust practitioners should not rely on it as Department of Justice antitrust enforcement policy.”

Behind this shift in policy appears to be recognition that “recent developments in the marketplace should make it clear that we can no longer rely upon the marketplace alone to ensure that competition and consumers will be protected.”  

The New York Times has a little more information about the shift, including Assistant Attorney General Varney’s speech.  We are apparently about to see the return of late-90s enforcement policies, which led to suits against Intel and Microsoft.  Additionally, Google may be under the microscope, though Bloomberg states that Ms. Varney has declined to name the tech behemoth individually; speculation has been rampant as of late, however.  (See Ars Technica, TechCrunch, and others…)