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Digital developments in focus
| 1 minute read

European Commission seeks views on virtual worlds and generative AI

Competition authorities around the globe are ramping up their interest in and examination of nascent technologies such as AI and virtual worlds - a trend that is only going to continue. 

Today, the European Commission has announced that it is seeking input on competition in virtual worlds and generative AI, as well as inviting views on how competition law can help preserve competition in these markets.  It has also sought information from a number of large digital players.  Depending on the input received, the Commission has said it may bring together the different perspectives in a workshop later in 2024.

Like a number of other competition regulators, the Commission has also made clear that it is monitoring agreements between large digital players and generative AI developers and providers - such agreements, due to their structure, do not always fall clearly within the purview of merger control rules. In particular, it has today confirmed that it is looking into whether Microsoft's investment in OpenAI might be reviewable under European merger control rules - hot on the heels of the CMA which made a similar announcement a month ago. The cooperation between the companies was also closely examined by the Bundeskartellamt - while the Bundeskartellamt concluded that, at that point in time (last November), the cooperation did not fall within German merger control rules, it did not rule out that the cooperation could become subject to a notification obligation if Microsoft's influence over the ChatGPT developer were to increase - it is now likely considering whether recent developments in the composition of OpenAI's board change things. Meanwhile, the CMA's invitation to comment on the partnership closed on 3 January - the next step will be for it to launch a formal phase 1 investigation.