Briefing

EU directs Broadcom to halt exclusivity clauses in rare interim order

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Competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager has ordered the chipmaker to stop using allegedly anti-competitive agreements, which prevent six of its major customers from buying chips elsewhere. The order is going into effect before the commission completes its ongoing antitrust investigation of the firm. Broadcom said it will comply, but will appeal the decision. (New York Times)

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Talking point: This is a test case for Vestager’s notoriously hardline approach to tech giants—the commissioner, who is set to begin a rare second term in November, signalled stronger and broader oversight in a confirmation hearing last week. Vestager is arguing that because of the lengthy nature of antitrust cases, irreparable harm to competition tends to occur before a probe is complete. In her view, this necessitates the use of interim measures. The commission last tried to impose such an order 18 years ago, but it was thrown out by an EU court after the company involved challenged it. If this attempt holds up, it lays the groundwork for similar action against tech giants like Google and Facebook.