The Strength of Bad Ties

The Strength of Bad Ties:
Modeling Tying Caselaw Since the Sherman Act
by Felix Chang and Erin McCabe

23 May 2023

We deploy a suite of topic modeling visualizations to reveal how tying caselaw has fragmented since the Sherman Act. Topic modeling is a natural language processing algorithm that illustrates the statistical relationships among words within a corpus of texts; tying is the sale of one product on the condition that the consumer also purchase another product. Here our corpus consists of every federal tying decision between 1890 and 2018, a body of caselaw that is notoriously convoluted. Our results show that tying cases tend to be more loosely connected than in other antitrust doctrines. Additionally, using the “strength of weak ties” theory from sociology, we illuminate the similarities in legal and economic reasoning among tying cases in disparate industries.

About the Speaker:
Felix B. Chang is a Professor of Law and the Co-Director of the Corporate Law Center at the University of Cincinnati (UC) College of Law and a Visiting Professor at Ohio State University College of Law.

Professor Chang’s writings span broad aspects of markets, inheritance, and inequality. In antitrust and financial regulation, his scholarship has examined the balance between competition and systemic risk in the derivatives and currency markets. Along with an interdisciplinary team, he is developing new tools for antitrust research through topic modeling. Professor Chang earned his BA from Yale and his JD from Michigan.

Chair: Dr Ryan Whalen, Faculty of Law, The University of Hong Kong

Enquiries: Flora Leung at