Pricing Algorithms and Risk of Collusion: Antitrust Considerations in Employing Bots and Other Automated Pricing Tools

A live 90-minute CLE webinar with interactive Q&A


Tuesday, September 19, 2017
1:00pm-2:30pm EDT, 10:00am-11:30am PDT

Early Registration Discount Deadline, Friday, August 25, 2017


This CLE webinar will examine the antitrust implications of using algorithms and artificial intelligence (AI) to monitor and set prices. The panel will analyze the circumstances under which such tools could be evidence of collusion between competitors and will compare U.S. and EU approaches to algorithmic pricing according to recently released policy documents.

Description

The ability of algorithms and AI to monitor and set prices is increasingly sophisticated. Pricing “bots” can engage in behavior that would be deemed “parallel conduct” if performed by humans. One firm’s pricing bots will soon be capable of colluding—in every meaningful sense—with pricing bots of a competing firm.

Algorithms used for explicit collusion clearly trigger competition laws. In addition, where algorithms or AI achieve a sense of reaching agreement, firms may be liable for the behavior of these systems. Price monitoring may be deemed an aggravating circumstance, increasing potential fines. When examining an algorithm for possible antitrust violations, counsel must consider the algorithm’s decisionmaking process along with those used by competitors.

In June 2017, the OECD published a note from the EU on algorithms and collusion (the EU Paper). At the same time, the Antitrust Division of DOJ and the FTC published a policy paper on the impact of algorithms (the DOJ/FTC Paper). The EU Paper and DOJ/FTC Paper offer differing analyses, but ultimately similar views, on when algorithms might be deemed anti-competitive.

Listen as our authoritative panel discusses the potential collusion issues presented by pricing algorithms and AI. The panel will also discuss the EU Paper and DOJ/FTC Paper, and best practices for developing and using pricing algorithms to avoid antitrust scrutiny.

Outline

  1. Uses of algorithms and AI in monitoring and adjusting prices
  2. Collusion issues with pricing bots and AI
  3. U.S. and EU reports
  4. Precautions in design and implementation; avoiding appearance of collusion with competitors

Benefits

The panel will review these and other key issues:

  • How are algorithms and AI currently applied to monitor and adjust prices?
  • When might the use of pricing bots be deemed collusion (and when might they actually promote competition)?
  • How do the U.S. and EU currently view the use of algorithms in monitoring and setting prices?
  • What precautions can be taken to avoid antitrust scrutiny of algorithms and AI?

Faculty

Dylan I. Ballard, Partner
Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton, San Francisco

Mr. Ballard specializes in complex business litigation and white collar criminal matters, with an emphasis on antitrust and unfair competition issues. He has significant experience defending U.S. and multinational businesses in all phases of class action litigation, as well as in civil and criminal proceedings involving federal, state, and foreign enforcement agencies.

Amar S. Naik
Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton, San Francisco

Mr. Naik is active in the firm’s Antitrust and Competition Practice Group His practice focuses on complex business litigation and white collar criminal matters, with an emphasis on antitrust and unfair competition issues. Prior to law school, Mr. Naik served as an economic analyst with expert witnesses in a variety of DOJ investigations and high-stakes civil litigation. 


Live Webinar

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This webinar is eligible for at least 1.5 general CLE credits.

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Hanesbrands Inc. - Law Dept.

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