This case study has been published in:

Pillot J. (2009), « Théorie des facilités essentielles et utilisation stratégique du droit de la concurrence : le cas du secteur de la diffusion de la presse en France », Economie Appliquée, 62(4), 5-33.

Pillot J. (2009), "Essential Facilities Doctrine and Strategic Uses of Antitrust Laws : the French Press Distribution Service Case", Economie Appliquée, 62(4), 5-33.

Judgments & Legal References :

  • Decision n°03-MC-04 of the French Conseil de la concurrence  in NMPP (2003) and subsequent appeals before the Cour d'Appel de Paris (February 2004, 12th) and the commercial chamber of the Cour de Cassation (judgment n°1159 FS-P+B+I+R, July 2005, 19th).
  • Judgment of the Cour d'Appel de Paris in NMPP (January 2006, 31st) confirmed by the judgment n°351 F-P+B of the Cour de Cassation (February 2007, 20th).
  • Decision n°08-D-34 of the French Conseil de la concurrence in NMPP (2008).

Overview : While the US Supreme Court seems to reject it, in the EU the Essential Facilities Doctrine is not only implemented but even extended to intangible assets. In a context characterized by latent legal uncertainties, opportunistic companies might prefer seek for a decisive competitive advantage in bringing a lawsuit against a rival rather than undertake their own investments in R&D. As an illustration of this phenomenon, I provide an economic analysis - carried out the firms legal strategies prism - of the recent litigation relative to the French press distribution service sector.

Main Results :

  • The public sector regulation appears sub-optimal
  • Barriers to entry on upstream markets show little permeability
  • Vertical integration grants competitive advantages, notably in industry standard adoption.
  • From the market standard management flows competition concerns
  • Latent strategic mechanisms underlie the lawsuit terms, as well as the legal conflict resolution process.
  • Unilateral schemes might be proven efficient from a microeconomic standpoint, but must be discussed from a macroeconomic one.