Companies across a range of industries are increasingly incorporating artificial intelligence (“AI”) into their businesses. As with any new technology, AI presents a number of questions concerning its relation to and compliance with antitrust laws. U.S. antitrust enforcers under the current administration have expressed a range of concerns around AI, including its effects on the accumulation of market power, the access that tech companies have to client data and the relationships between large tech companies and AI startups, including potentially using those relationships to sidestep required merger review processes.[1] Similar concerns have been raised internationally by antitrust agencies in the European Union, Australia, India, Japan and the United Kingdom, to name a few, although a consensus approach has yet to emerge.

Current AI-Related Investigations

United States

The FTC earlier this year ordered five companies to provide information regarding recent investments and partnerships involving generative AI companies and major cloud service providers.[2] The Agency’s 6(b) inquiry[3] was sent to Alphabet, Inc. (parent company to Google);, Inc.; Anthropic PBC; Microsoft Corp.; and OpenAI, Inc.

Following those inquiries, the FTC and DOJ reached an agreement earlier this month to divvy up investigations into certain companies for potential anticompetitive conduct. The DOJ will investigate Nvidia and its leading position in supplying the high-end semiconductors underpinning AI computing, while the FTC is set to probe whether Microsoft and its partner OpenAI have unfair advantages with the rapidly evolving AI technology, particularly around the technology used for large language models.

Nvidia, OpenAI and Microsoft are some of the biggest players in the generative AI space. Nvidia is a leading AI chipmaker. OpenAI owns the most-used generative AI chatbot, ChatGPT, and is estimated to be valued at over $80 billion. Microsoft has invested $13 billion into OpenAI over the last several years. The companies’ relationship has proved mutually beneficial: OpenAI has used Microsoft’s vast computing resources to further develop its technology, while Microsoft has begun to integrate a number of OpenAI’s services into its core businesses. Regulators are investigating whether the companies’ partnership gives them an unfair advantage against competitors.

The FTC is also separately investigating Microsoft’s relationship with another startup company, Inflection AI. In March 2024, Microsoft announced it was starting a new consumer AI division and hired Inflection AI’s co-founders along with an estimated 70 other Inflection AI employees. Microsoft also paid $650 million to license Inflection AI’s models. The FTC is investigating whether Microsoft’s investment constituted an acquisition that Microsoft failed to properly disclose. [4]

These investigations represent the agencies’ latest efforts to police AI’s effects on competition and mark an escalation in the agency’s enforcement in this space.

European Union

In tandem with the European Union’s flagship new AI Act, the European Commission (the “Commission”) is showing increasing interest in AI investigations. For example, in March 2024, it sent formal information requests to certain large online search engines and other platforms (including Google, Facebook and TikTok) concerning risks and mitigation measures arising from generative AI. The Commission followed this in May 2024 by issuing an additional information request to Microsoft concerning risks arising from its Bing search engine’s generative AI features.

The Commission has also invited comments on Microsoft’s investment in OpenAI. Although the Commission reportedly concluded in April 2024 that the arrangement was not an acquisition (which would have made the transaction subject to the EU rules on merger control), it has continued to investigate whether to launch a formal antitrust investigation into the arrangement on the basis of its potentially distortive effects on the European Union’s internal market.

Among EU Member States, national competition authorities have also displayed increasing recent interest in AI.[5] The German regulator, for example has, similarly to other regulators, investigated Microsoft’s involvement and cooperation with OpenAI. Although it determined in November 2023 that the arrangement was not subject to merger control in Germany, it left open the possibility of re-examination should Microsoft increase its influence into OpenAI in the future. Meanwhile, in February 2024, the French competition authority launched a public consultation into how large technology companies approach AI. A month later, it fined Google €250 million for “content scraping” from online news websites without permission to train its Gemini generative AI chatbot.

United Kingdom

The UK government has, up to now, taken a self-styled “pro-innovation” approach to AI regulation that is different from the EU model of establishing a common regulatory and legal framework.[6] Intervention in the sector has largely come from the United Kingdom’s Competition and Markets Authority (the “CMA”), which has recently stepped up its enforcement activities.

The CMA announced the launch of preliminary enquiries this April into whether certain commercial partnerships and hiring practices involving Amazon and Anthropic PBC, Microsoft and Inflection AI, and Microsoft and Mistral AI were anticompetitive. Although the CMA concluded in May 2024 that the latter did not fall within the scope of the UK merger control regime (since the arrangement didn’t create a dependency between the companies), the decision is nevertheless important as it sets out in detail a framework for how the CMA may look at AI partnerships in the future. This follows the CMA having also invited comments on Microsoft’s investment in OpenAI (the manufacturer of ChatGPT) in December 2023. A decision on whether to launch a formal investigation into whether this investment amounted to a notifiable merger under UK competition law is expected imminently.

The CMA is likely to continue taking an assertive approach to enforcement and will be granted sweeping new powers to do so once the UK Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Act comes into force later in 2024.


Regulators globally are closely scrutinizing AI-related competition risks, and in the United States, the FTC and DOJ have streamlined the process for obtaining information in non-public AI-related investigations. As companies increasingly incorporate AI into their businesses, they should consider the following to help identify, manage and reduce their antitrust exposure:

  • Seek advice from antitrust counsel before developing or integrating AI into your business. Counsel can assist in assessing the risks of such technology and provide guidance on protections that may mitigate the company’s risk.
  • Understand the nature of the technology that is being used, including what it is being used for, how it works, whether and how the software uses confidential data and who has access to that data.
  • Avoid imprecise and inaccurate marketing materials concerning the company’s use of AI that could be misconstrued to imply the company’s or industry’s use of AI is facilitating anticompetitive behavior.

[1]     See, e.g., Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Kanter Delivers Remarks at the Promoting Competition in Artificial Intelligence Workshop (May 30, 2024), available at

[2]     FTC Launches Inquiry into Generative AI Investments and Partnerships, Federal Trade Commission (January 25, 2024), available at

[3]     Section 6(b) of the FTC Act authorizes the FTC to conduct studies that allow enforcers to gain a deeper understanding of market trends and business practices. Findings stemming from such orders can help inform future agency actions.

[4]     Under the Hart Scott Rodino (“HSR”) Act, any proposed merger or acquisition valued at $119.5 million or higher must be reported to the FTC and DOJ and adhere to the applicable HSR waiting periods to ensure the transaction does not violate antitrust laws.

[5]     This comes against the backdrop of increasing interest in AI by competition regulators globally, with both the Indian and Australian authorities, for example, launching investigations into AI in late 2023.

[6]     That could shortly change as a result of the upcoming UK election, as the Labour Party has pledged in its manifesto that: “Labour will ensure the safe development and use of AI models by introducing binding regulation on the handful of companies developing the most powerful AI models…”

The cover art used in this blog post was generated by Microsoft Copilot.

To subscribe to our Data Blog, please click here.


Tim Cornell is a litigation partner and a member of the firm’s Antitrust Group. A seasoned dealmaker with two decades of experience, Mr. Cornell advises companies on complex antitrust matters spanning mergers and acquisitions regulatory review and clearances, intellectual property and technology licensing, supply and distribution agreements, joint venture formation and civil and criminal antitrust investigations. He regularly appears before the U.S. Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice and has advocated on behalf of his clients before the U.S. federal courts and international regulatory bodies. He can be reached at


Timothy McIver is a partner in the London office. His practice focuses on EU and UK competition law and regulatory matters, including obtaining clearance for complex merger investigations before the European Commission and UK competition authorities, as well as coordinating merger approvals across multiple jurisdictions worldwide. On the contentious side, he has broad experience advising on behavioural matters, including EU and UK investigations of alleged abuses of dominance, market investigations and studies, as well as representing clients before various UK sectoral regulators. Much of his work is international in nature and involves counselling clients on their global antitrust strategy. He has particular experience advising in the fields of financial services, technology, chemicals, energy (electricity and gas), natural resources, aviation, communications and private equity.


Michael Schaper is a litigation partner who focuses on various types of complex civil litigation, including in numerous areas of intellectual property law, as well as antitrust litigation and other antitrust counseling. He is recommended by The Legal 500 US (2024), which has noted that he is “extremely knowledgeable and client-focused.” Mr. Schaper has been involved in numerous antitrust litigations, representing both plaintiffs and defendants in monopolization, unfair pricing practices and price-fixing cases. He has also extensively advised clients regarding pricing and distribution practices, as well as potential Section 2 claims against competitors. He can be reached at


Kyra Bromley is a member of the firm’s Litigation Department whose practice focuses on antitrust law in both transaction and litigation contexts. Recommended by The Legal 500 US, Ms. Bromley has extensive experience in advising on, preparing and obtaining approval of pre-transaction competition filings with the U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission and advises clients and coordinates representation for merger control filings around the world. She can be reached at


Anne-Mette Heemsoth is an English-qualified associate in the firm’s London office whose practice focuses on EU and UK competition law and regulation. Ms. Heemsoth has extensive experience with complex merger investigations before the European Commission and national competition authorities on a global level, as well as with contentious legislative, behavioural, and EU state aid matters. She represents clients across various industries and has particular expertise in financial services, including insurance and private equity, chemicals, communication, aviation, media, and technology.


Adam Saunders is an associate in the Litigation Department and a member of the firm’s Commercial Litigation and Antitrust Practice Groups. Mr. Saunders has extensive experience with complex commercial matters in both Federal and state court, including insurance and securities class actions, contractual disputes, and antitrust concerns before the U.S. Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission. In addition to his litigation practice, Mr. Saunders regularly advises clients in connection with merger clearance in a range of industries, including pharmaceuticals, insurance, financial products and services, packaging and consumer goods, waste disposal, travel and foodservice distribution. Mr. Saunders also maintains an active pro bono practice representing indigent clients in family, housing, and immigration courts in New York and New Jersey. He can be reached at


Zesemaiat Debessai Corino is a law clerk in the Litigation Department. She can be reached at


Alfred Scott is a trainee associate in the Debevoise London office.