William & Mary Law Review


Section 2 of the Sherman Act condemns firms who “monopolize,” “attempt to monopolize,” or “combine or conspire” to monopolize—all without explanation. Section 2 is the antitrust law’s only provision that reaches entirely unilateral conduct, although it has often been used to reach collaborative conduct as well. In general, § 2 requires greater amounts of individually held market power than do the other antitrust statutes, but it is less categorical about conduct. With one exception, however, the statute reads so broadly that criticisms of the nature that it is outdated cannot be based on faithful readings of the text.

The one exception is competitive injuries that occur in secondary or complementary markets where they do not realistically threaten monopoly. While this problem is ubiquitous in the law of monopolization, it is particularly prominent in networks. Competition on multi-firm networks requires collaboration. As markets have become more networked a significant emergent problem is actions by dominant firms that cause competitive harm in secondary markets. For these, the United States would do better to incorporate an “abuse of dominance” standard. This approach would be far superior to many recently proposed bills that address the issue of “self-preferencing,” or dominant firm favoritism toward their own products. These bills are too narrow in that they single out a small set of firms for adverse treatment, usually without regard to market power. They are also too broad, however, to the extent that they identify a great deal of harmless and socially beneficial conduct as abusive.

This Article additionally explores several related areas in which antitrust policy toward monopolization should take a different approach, particularly in networked markets. These include (1) Vertical Integration, Refusal to Deal, and Self-Preferencing; (2) Mergers as Exclusionary Practices; (3) Anticompetitive Product Design and Restraints on Innovation; (4) Strategic, Exclusionary Pricing; and (5) Anticompetitive Intellectual Property Practices.