parliment flags

On 29 April 2015, the English High Court in an usual move agreed to applications made by the claimant (an unsuccessful bidder) for early specific disclosure of certain tender documentation by the defendant contracting authority in a public procurement dispute. The facts of this case were that the Environment Agency (EA) conducted a new procurement procedure for a temporary flood barrier system in 2014. Geodesign Barriers Limited (GBL), who was the incumbent supplier, submitted a tender. However the EA informed –Read More–

The European Commission’s Director-General for Competition, Alexander Italianer, made a speech on 21 April 2015 entitled “Shaken, not stirred. Competition Law Enforcement and Standard Essential Patents”. The speech provides a good summary of the current interface between standard essential patents and competition law. In particular, Italianer mentions the Motorola and Samsung cases and in his view, how the cases have taught us two lessons: 1. That it is generally legitimate to seek an injunction if someone is infringing your patent. –Read More–

On 21 April 2015, the EU Commission announced that it had sent a statement of objections to Gazprom, the Russian gas supplier, over allegations of an abuse of dominance by the company in Eastern European markets. It is reported that the Commission were ready to send the statement to Gazprom last summer but delicate geopolitical considerations including the need to supply the Ukraine with gas over the coming winter meant the Commission took the view not to antagonise Moscow. This –Read More–

On the 21 April 2015 it was announced that booking.com had reached a settlement with the Italian, Swedish and French competition authorities. The actions were a co-ordinated approach with the European Commission to examine online hotel booking and the wide use of best price clauses by the hotel booking websites. We have reported on these developments several times over the last year including in this post. Booking.com has reached this settlement as the dominant player in European online hotel booking. –Read More–

On 2 April 2015, the German Federal Cartel Office (the “FCO” or “Bundeskartellamt”) issued a Statement of Objections to booking.com regarding its best price clauses. Best price/price parity/most favoured nation clauses, are clauses in agreements whereby one party promises another to always offer its best rates or terms for a product or service. The fear over these obligations is that although they seem favourable to consumers, the alleged effect in practice is for this fixed lowest price to become a –Read More–

By decision dated 11 March 2015, the French Competition Authority (“FCA”) fined a group of dairy manufacturers for price-fixing dairy products sold under private retail labels. The ten dairy manufacturers concerned were found to have implemented a price-fixing agreement during a period from at least 2006 to 2012. This anti-competitive practice (made possible thanks to secret meetings and telephone conversations) aimed notably at coordinating price hikes and volume allocation in a concerted effort to distort and hinder competition in the –Read More–

On 27 March 2014, the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) announced an unspecified, wide ranging competition law investigation into the clothing, footwear and fashion sector. Unconfirmed reports circulating are that the investigation may relate to geo-blocking. Geo-blocking is the practice of blocking online sales across borders by redirecting international customers back to their own domestic websites or blocking the use of foreign delivery addresses or credit cards. This may be done to prohibit customers from benefitting from favourable exchange –Read More–

On 2 April 2015, the German Federal Cartel Office (the “FCO” or “Bundeskartellamt”) issued a statement of objections to booking.com regarding its best price clauses. Best price/price parity/most favoured nation clauses, are clauses in agreements whereby one party promises another to always offer its best rates or terms for a product or service. The fear over these obligations is that although they seem favourable to consumers, the effect in practice is for this fixed lowest price to become a minimum –Read More–

On 2 April 2015, reports began circulating that the EU Commission had been contacting major European music labels to discuss Apple’s upcoming music streaming service. After its recent purchase of Beats Electronics it has been widely reported that Apple wants to break into the music streaming market currently led by Swedish rival, Spotify. Music streaming differs from purchasing music from conventional sources such as iTunes. The consumer is able either to listen to any music free (albeit interspersed with advertisements) or pay –Read More–

On 30 March 2015, four new sets of guidelines were released by the UK Government to assist parties involved in tenders governed by the Public Contracts Regulations 2015. These are: • Guidance on amendments to contracts during their term. • Guidance on awarding contracts. • Dynamic Purchasing System guidance. • Guidance on the standstill period. Of the four, the guidance on amendments to contracts during their term may prove especially beneficial for both public authorities and contractors. We often encounter –Read More–