THOMAS M. JORDE AND DAVID J. TEECE
A centennial is a time for stock taking--to reflect on past accomplishments and to survey future challenges. In the area of economic and industrial policy, it ought not to be a time for complacency since economic progress in the United States is slower than it has been historically, and less than that to which the nation seems to aspire. Moreover, the President's Commission on Industrial Competitiveness has recommended that the United States change its antitrust laws "to reflect the new global markets within which American firms operate," and has noted that "the uncertainty as to what constitutes antitrust violations has deterred actions that could have desirable competitive effects."1 This volume selectively explores ways in which the U.S. antitrust laws affect the innovation process. We believe this is an important focus and concur with Baxter ( 1985) that "if our antitrust laws were to impede technological development to any substantial degree, the net effect of those laws on our well-being would surely be negative."
U.S. antitrust law has undergone significant changes since the passage of the Sherman Act in 1890. We do not intend in this Introduction to recount the major developments in antitrust law over the past century. Nor do we intend to survey comprehensively the many changes that have occurred in our economic systems and in the global economy. Rather, we will describe in general terms certain ways in which U.S. antitrust thinking and antitrust laws may be at odds with technological progress and economic welfare.
We do not by any means wish to assume that all the authors of the various chapters follow our point of view. Indeed, we are confident that several of them do not share it. However, by inviting them to write a chapter to celebrate the Sherman Act's centennial year, they have, either implicitly or explicitly, stated their views on what they believe is the current condition of the law. Most agree that the antitrust laws are in good shape, and, at most, only minor modifications to the law and its enforcement appear to be in order. We are less sanguine.
The organization of this chapter is as follows. In the next section we discuss the goals of antitrust. In the section "The Nature and Importance of Competition,"