An extract from The Dominance and Monopolies Review - 7th edition

Market definition and market power

Monopoly power is a prerequisite to bringing a monopolisation claim. Monopoly power is the ability to control prices or exclude competition. It can be proven through direct evidence of actual price increases or the exclusion of rivals. More typically, however, courts infer monopoly power from the combination of high market shares and entry barriers. Higher market shares are more likely to support the inference of monopoly power, and typically shares below 50 per cent cannot support that inference. But even a very high share does not automatically establish monopoly power.

Monopoly power is not required for attempted monopolisation or conspiracy to monopolise claims. Attempted monopolisation instead requires only a 'dangerous probability' of achieving monopoly power, and thus can be sustained with a lesser showing of market power. A conspiracy to monopolise arguably requires no showing of market power at all, although cases alleging a conspiracy to monopolise in the absence of market power are relatively rare.

Inferring monopoly power requires measuring market shares, and thus requires defining a relevant market. Relevant markets have both product and geographic dimensions. Product markets are defined by looking at what products are reasonably interchangeable substitutes for one another. Geographic markets are defined by looking at what other geographies sellers operate in and buyers can turn to. One method that is often used to determine what products or geographies are in the market is to ask whether customers would substitute from one product or geography to another in response to a small price increase above competitive levels.