Economic Dependence on Online Intermediary Platforms and Its Exploitative Abuse

LL.M. Dissertation, Faculty of Law, University of Amsterdam

Posted: 8 Apr 2019 Last revised: 5 Dec 2020

Date Written: January 1, 2019


Against the backdrop of the rise of the tech giants, e.g. Amazon, Apple, Google, Facebook, modern competition law is currently being challenged within (neo-Brandeis or hipster antitrust) and outside (new platform-specific legislation) the area of the law. Right or wrong, such challenges that are presented to us highlight that the conventional competition law approach, which has been firmly geared to prevent exclusionary effects on a relevant market, has revealed certain limitations to the extent of fairly assessing the competitive interactions in Platform-to-Business relations. Indeed, the conventional competition law has somewhat failed to redress unfair trading practices used by online intermediary platforms which comprise not only exclusionary effects on the relevant market but also exploitative effects of abuse of the relative dominance and/or intermediary powers. This may originate from the lack of objective theoretical tools to assess such exploitative effects arising from the power of economic dependence. This study is intended to provoke further discussion on how to discern and assess the state of economic dependence and its exploitative abuse. In particular, this study aims to clarify why and how the state of economic dependence may arise in the Platform-to-Business relations and what competition concerns can be raised by the abuse of the economically dependent situation. In the conclusion, by consulting relevant theories and tools that have been established in both Member States and other jurisdictions, I propose to consider the lack of alternative solutions, the share of turnover, the repetitiveness and widespread nature of conducts (and, if necessary, the causality between the market position and abuse) in the assessment of exploitation under Art.102(a) TFEU.

Keywords: dominance, exploitative abuse, economic dependence, superior bargaining position, unfair trading practices, unfair trade terms, 102, platform, matching platform, online intermediary, amazon

JEL Classification: K20, K21, K29, K42, L40, L41, L42, L43, L49

Suggested Citation

Lee, Sangyun, Economic Dependence on Online Intermediary Platforms and Its Exploitative Abuse (January 1, 2019). LL.M. Dissertation, Faculty of Law, University of Amsterdam, Available at SSRN:

Sangyun Lee (Contact Author)

Korea University ( email )

Seoul 136-701

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