ACCC will not oppose Turnitin's proposed acquisition of Ouriginal

25 November 2021

The ACCC will not oppose the proposed acquisition of Ouriginal Group AB (Ouriginal) by Turnitin LLC, via Turnitin UK Ltd. (Turnitin).

Turnitin and Ouriginal are international providers of anti-plagiarism software, overlapping in the supply of this software to secondary and higher education customers. Anti-plagiarism software is used by educational institutions to scan student assignments on submission to identify potential plagiarism.

“The ACCC was initially concerned that the proposed acquisition would remove a significant and innovative competitor to Turnitin in the supply of anti-plagiarism software, in particular for higher education institutions,” ACCC Commissioner Stephen Ridgeway said.

However, the ACCC’s investigation concluded that the proposed acquisition was unlikely to substantially lessen competition in the supply of anti-plagiarism software to Australian higher education customers.

“Turnitin is the dominant anti-plagiarism software provider in Australia. This is due largely to its superior technology and large database of previously submitted student papers and academic journals that are used to check submitted works for plagiarism.”

“Ouriginal, on the other hand, has a minimal presence in Australia with few customers and no Australian-based employees, and is not a significant competitive constraint on Turnitin,” Mr Ridgeway said.

The ACCC also considers that there are several anti-plagiarism software providers that could expand into the Australian higher education sector, including Google and Microsoft, who currently provide anti-plagiarism software for secondary education customers and some higher education institutions, and Compilatio, a leading anti-plagiarism provider in Europe.

The level of competitive constraint Ouriginal provides on Turnitin is unlikely to be stronger than the level of competitive constraint that exists from the potential entry of other players into the Australian market.

The ACCC’s investigation also found that the proposed acquisition is unlikely to impact research and development in the anti-plagiarism software sector.

“Ouriginal does not appear to be driving innovation in anti-plagiarism software. Turnitin’s incentive to innovate is primarily driven by competition from other providers and this will continue following the proposed acquisition,” Mr Ridgeway said.  

Further information is available on the ACCC’s public register: Turnitin, LLC, via Turnitin UK Ltd., proposes to acquire Ouriginal Group AB

Background:

Turnitin provides educational software solutions including plagiarism detection, grammar checking, grading and exam proctoring in many countries including Australia. Turnitin LLC is based in the USA but is seeking to complete this acquisition via Turnitin UK Ltd (Turnitin).

Ouriginal, based in Sweden, was formed from the merger of Urkund and PlagScan in 2019. Ouriginal focuses on plagiarism detection. It is largely active in Northern Europe, Germany and recently in parts of Asia.

Anti-plagiarism software is designed to detect plagiarism in its various forms. In Australia, it is primarily used in the education sector to address risks of plagiarism and thereby assist in maintaining academic integrity.

Anti-plagiarism software detects plagiarism by comparing a piece of work against sources which may be private (e.g. databases of previous student submissions and academic publications) or public (e.g. webpages). Anti-plagiarism software providers are also developing tools to respond to newer forms of plagiarism, such as contract cheating or ghost writing.

The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority cleared the proposed acquisition on 26 July 2021, and the Spain’s National Commission for Markets and Competition also cleared the transaction on 19 October 2021.

‘Higher education’ primarily refers to Australian universities and institutions registered by the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Authority (TEQSA).

The ACCC understands that only a small proportion of vocational training organisations, which are registered by the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA), would use anti-plagiarism software.

Release number: 
188/21
ACCC Infocentre: 

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Media enquiries: 
Media Team - 1300 138 917, media@accc.gov.au

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