Intel and McAfee”Antitrust is Getting it Right in High Tech

Christopher Thomas, Jan 27, 2011

The European Commission has just (January 26, 2011) approved the acquisition by Intel of McAfee, following the U.S. Federal Trade Commission’s (“FTC”) clearance last December. The decision announced by Commissioner Almunia is particularly interesting from a policy perspective because it is conditional on compliance with various commitments offered by Intel, and because it is, in principle, open to challenge before the General Court of the European Union – a Court well known for its readiness to overturn unsatisfactory merger decisions.

High technology is a difficult area for antitrust regulators. Ensuring genuine competition is vital for the innovation that facilitates economic growth across the globe, and which enhances the quality of our lives. But the products and services involved can often be explained to those outside the engineering community only “at a high level” or by using analogies with more everyday concepts with which lawyers, economists, and courts can associate. Frankly, it is often hard to distinguish between real problems and mere opportunism by complainants.