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One issue often considered by anti-trust law is bundling: restraints of the form "you can buy A from me if and only if you also buy B from me". A particular historical concern has been that a dominant firm in market A might use such a restriction to force consumers to choose its B rather than a competitor's.

But this leaves open the question of where one draws the line between bundled products versus components of the same product:

  • If I am forced to buy a set of tyres with a car, are the tyres and car bundled, are are they just two parts of the same product?
  • If I am forced to accept a web browser with my computer operating system, are the OS and browser bundled, or is the browser really just a part of the operating system?
  • If Netflix will let me subscribe to its entire library, but not choose a la carte, is it bundling of many movies or just the sale of a single product 'a viewing subscription'?

My question is: by what principles do courts settle the question of whether AB is a single product made of two components or whether it is a bundle of two different products, A and B?

Examples of how these decisions have been made in past cases would be welcome.


n.b. I am aware of the economics of bundling and that there may be efficiency reasons for products/components to be bundled. I am interested in learning about how these economic principles (along with legal principles) are put into practice.

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