A FRAND Regime for Dominant Digital Platforms
Dominant digital platforms are under increased scrutiny by regulators around the world, notably competition authorities. Much of the discussion focuses on market access and contestability. However, many doubt whether traditional competition law enforcement can, by itself, be an adequate solution to the challenges posed by dominant digital platforms. Instead, a broader regulatory solution could be devised to ensure effective competition and to provide access to critical platforms or access to data. On the premises that regulation is warranted, this paper considers whether a Fair, Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory (FRAND) access regime could be a solution to ensure effective competition, while maintaining the incentives of dominant platforms to innovate. The paper shows that, beyond the application of FRAND in the competition law context, the European Union institutions have consistently used the FRAND regime to ensure access to critical infrastructure or inputs. The FRAND regime has been applied in EU legislation such as standardisation, chemicals, electronic communications framework, public sector information, research framework, vehicles emissions, payment services, credit rating agencies and benchmark regulations. It has proved itself to be a flexible and pragmatic tool, able to apply to different market dynamics and bottlenecks. Drawing out the common elements of this European FRAND access regime, the paper considers how it could be applied as a regulatory solution for dominant digital platforms.
digital single market