Pricing algorithms are nothing new. They are, generally speaking, computer programs intended to help sellers optimize prices in real time, or close to it. These programs can use data on demand, costs, or even competitors’ prices to “learn” to set the prices of products. What is new is the proliferation of these programs across industries and the emergence of artificial intelligence-driven pricing algorithms. 

On December 18, 2023, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) released the 2023 Merger Guidelines. Following a 60-day public comment period that solicited over 30,000 comments from a variety of stakeholders, the finalized guidelines take a somewhat softer approach than the draft guidelines

While speaking at the annual conference of the National Advertising Division on September 19, 2023, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) announced a generative AI (“AI”) policy that is consistent with Chairwoman Khan’s focus on the perceived harms to consumers from large technology companies, fully embracing a plan to regulate AI swiftly, aggressively, and proactively. 

The agency began its remarks on AI by observing that its purported policy decision to allow technology companies to self-regulate during the “Web 2.0” era was a mistake. Self-regulation, according to the FTC, was a failure that ultimately resulted in the collection of too much power and too much data by a handful of large technology companies. 

 As this year’s roundtable of enforcers demonstrated, big business is probably antitrust enforcers’ greatest fear. Spring in Washington means Cherry blossoms and antitrust. And last week, 3,700 antitrust lawyers and government officials from around the globe descended on Washington to visit the Cherry blossoms and discuss how they need more government intervention to make the economy work for everybody and need to bring ever more “plausible” cases in order to nudge and push the courts along.

The Supreme Court heard oral argument last week in cases that will have extensive implications for online platforms, and, more broadly, for internet speech across the board. Gonzalez v. Google, in particular, may result in a first-of-its-kind clarification of the scope of 47 U.S.C. § 230. 

Antitrust and tech is in the legal news almost daily, and often multiple times a day.  Here are a few recent developments with notable implications that may have flown under the radar: 1) renewed focus on gig economy issues; 2) potential enforcement efforts regarding director overlaps; and 3) challenges to MFN pricing. 

Under the Clayton Act (15 U.S.  Code § 18), certain business acquisitions are prohibited where “the effect of such acquisition may be substantially to lessen competition, or to tend to create a monopoly.” Long-standing jurisprudence has established that merger challenges require, at the outset, a prima facie showing of the likelihood of a substantial lessoning of competition that would result from the merger or acquisition.  Such prima facie showing typically takes the form of claims and evidence related to market shares above a certain level, but can take other forms.