Bundling and tying are classic antitrust abuses. Leveraging market power to force customers of “Product A” to purchase “Product B” is an archetypal competition law infringement.
Like most antitrust abuses, tying can take many forms. Aside from the standard paradigm of forcing a customer to purchase a product additional to the one in which the incumbent possesses market power, there can be more nuanced scenarios.
For example, questions have recently arisen as to whether “tying” analysis applies where a monopolist forces customers to purchase multiple units of the same product.
Further, there is the even more nuanced scenario of software bundling. The Microsoft cases of the 1990s (concerning the bundling of browsers and media players with a dominant operating system) have of late given way to cases involving tightly integrated software bundles sold by mobile “platform” providers, and the integration of specialized types of search results within online search platforms.
The above issues, concerning digital markets, also relate to the debate concerning the so-called “free” nature of various online products and services, and the question of how tying analysis can even apply in such a context.
In short, while “tying” and “bundling” are not new concepts, their application to new market contexts gives rise to no shortage of profound legal and economic questions that continue to shed light on their underlying basis. Th!-->…