Staples/Office Depot: Clarifying Cluster Markets

By Krisha A. Cerilli –

The recent challenge to Staples acquisition of Office Depot brought to the forefront several key aspects of antitrust merger analysis. In suing to block the deal, FTC alleged that the acquisition would substantially lessen competition in the sale and distribution of consumable office supplies to large business customers. Staples and Office Depot disputed important elements of the Plaintiffs’ case, including the definition of the relevant market and estimation of market shares, and the likelihood of sufficient entry and expansion by rival firms. This article discusses the cluster market framework from prior cases, before turning to the cluster market analysis in Staples/Office Depot and its implications.