The Economist:  “Keiretsu is a Japanese word which, translated literally, means headless combine.  It is the name given to a form of corporate structure in which a number of organisations link together, usually by taking small stakes in each other and usually as a result of having a close business relationship, often as suppliers to each other.  The structure, frequently likened to a spider’s web, was much admired in the 1990s as a way to defuse the traditionally adversarial relationship between buyer and supplier.  If you own a bit of your supplier, reinforced sometimes by your supplier owning a bit of you, the theory says that you are more likely to reach a way of working that is of mutual benefit to you both than if your relationship is at arm’s length.  American trade officials, however, disliked Japan’s keiretsu because they saw them as a restraint of trade. Jeffrey Garten, once under-secretary of commerce in charge of international trade and then dean of Yale School of Management, said that a keiretsu restrains trade ‘because there is a very strong preference to do business only with someone in that family’.


European Commission, Glossary of Terms Used in EU Competition Policy: Antitrust and Control of Concentrations: “Specific knowledge held by an individual or a company on a product or production process, often obtained through extensive and costly research and development (R & D).”

Competition Bureau, Intellectual Property Enforcement Guidelines:  “For transactions or conduct involving IP, the Bureau is likely to define the relevant market based on one of the following: the intangible knowledge or know-how that constitutes the IP, processes that are based on the IP rights, or the final or intermediate goods resulting from, or incorporating, the IP.  Defining a market around intangible knowledge or know-how is likely to be important when IP rights are separate from any technology or product in which the knowledge or know-how is used. For example, consider a merger between two firms that individually license similar patents to various independent firms that, in turn, use them to develop their own process technologies.  Such a merger may reduce competition in the relevant market for the patented know-how if the two versions of that know-how are close substitutes for each other, if there are no (or very few) alternatives that are close substitutes for the know-how and if there are sufficient barriers that would prevent the development of conceptual approaches that could replace the know-how of the merging firms. This last condition may hold if the scope of the patents protecting the merging firms’ know-how is sufficiently broad to prevent others from “innovating around” the patented technologies, or if the development of such know-how requires specialized knowledge or assets that only the two merging firms possess and that potential competitors could not develop or obtain in less than two years.”



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    I am a competition and advertising lawyer based in Toronto who blogs on competition and advertising law and interesting legal and policy developments relating to business, white-collar crime, corruption and Internet and new media law.

    I offer business, association, government and individual clients efficient and strategic advice in relation to competition/antitrust, advertising, regulatory and new media law. I also offer compliance, education and policy services.

    My more than 15 years experience includes advising clients on hundreds of domestic and cross-border competition, advertising and marketing, promotional contest/sweepstakes, conspiracy/cartel, abuse of dominance, compliance, refusal to deal and pricing and distribution matters.

    For more information about my services, see here.