Andrew Tisinger


The United States has relaxed antitrust scrutiny of private standard-setting organizations in recognition of their potential procompetitive benefits. In the meantime, however, the growing importance of network industries—and the coinciding move toward vendor-led standards consortia—has welcomed new, insidious anticompetitive risks. This Note proffers one such risk: barrier lock-in. A theory of barrier lock-in recognizes that dominant vendors can capture and control standards consortia to keep standardized equipment complex and costly. These practices are exclusionary. This Note situates barrier lock-in within the existing antitrust literature and jurisprudence, provides a potential example of barrier lock-in in the 5G network equipment standardization process, and proposes two solutions for future legislative, executive, and judicial action against misbehaving standard-setters.

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