Count Your Lucky Stars: Why Consumers May Be Thankful for Monopolistic Behavior in the Rating and Review IndustryJessica FriedrichNOTE - Fordham Intellectual Property, Media & Entertainment Law Journal
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Count Your Lucky Stars: Why Consumers May Be Thankful for Monopolistic Behavior in the Rating and Review Industry
Jessica Friedrich
NOTE

  The full text of this Note may be found by clicking the PDF link on the right.

 

 

 

INTRODUCTION

 

[A]

t the heart of our antitrust jurisprudence lies the notion that competition is good and monopolies are bad.1 A recent district court decision in United States v. Bazaarvoice, Inc. supports this doctrine.2 The district judge prohibited a merger between the two largest rating and review (“R&R”) companies, Bazaarvoice and PowerReviews, because it would have given Bazaarvoice a monopoly in the industry.3 The antitrust laws and government-issued Merger Guidelines that were relied upon in this decision aim to prohibit anticompetitive behavior in large part to eliminate adverse effects on society.4 This Note proposes that the R&R industry might better serve society by allowing monopolistic behaviors rather than promoting competition.

 

Part I of this Note will provide background information on antitrust law, on the Bazaarvoice decision, and on the unique features of two-sided platforms. Part II explores the efficiencies and benefits that may justify monopolistic behavior in the R&R field, mainly that ratings might be more accurate with fewer firms in the market. Finally, Part III presents additional solutions to increase the accuracy and transparency of ratings. In conclusion, this Note suggests that three of the generally acknowledged exceptions to basic anti- trust principles are present in the R&R industry, and it argues that the Bazaarvoice court could have allowed the merger.

 


 

* Associate Editor, Fordham Intellectual Property, Media & Entertainment Law Journal, Volume XXV; J.D. Candidate, Fordham University School of Law, May 2015; B.A., B.S., University of Georgia, 2012. I would like to thank Professor Mark Patterson for his advice and guidance and Stephen Dixon and Kate Patton for their hard work.

 


  1. See Brown Shoe Co. v. United States, 370 U.S. 294, 320 (1962).

  2. No. 13-cv-00133-WHO, 2014 WL 203966, at *1–2 (N.D. Cal. Jan. 8, 2014).

  3. See id. at *76.

  4. See U.S. Dep’t of Justice and FTC, Horizontal Merger Guidelines § 1 (2010) [hereinafter   2010   Merger   Guidelines], available at http://www.ftc.gov/sites/default/files/attachments/merger-review/100819hmg.pdf [http://perma.cc/4HJY-PCJP] (“Agencies normally evaluate mergers based on their impact on customers.”).

Note by

Jessica Friedrich*

Vol 25 Book 2

25 <span style="font-variant: small-caps;">Fordham Intell. Prop. Media & Ent. L.J. </span>537

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