parliment flags

A resounding judicial victory was scored in Italy this fall by Bryan Cave’s affiliated office (“SILS”) on behalf of the Volkswagen Group. The Supreme Court of Italy (“Corte di Cassazione”) rejected all claims brought against VW by a local car dealer (B Automobili) in a long-running, complex case involving an alleged “abuse of a dominant position” by VW. The plaintiff alleged the violation of Italian antitrust rules (specifically Section 3 of Law No. 287 of 1990) on the basis of –Read More–

This case, being already the third since the new CAT Rules came into force on the 1 October 2015, is evidence that the new fast track procedure has been successful in encouraging claims against anti-competitive behaviour and providing smaller businesses with cheaper and quicker opportunities for access to justice. On 12 April 2016, the UK Competition Appeal Tribunal (“CAT”) listed a third case under its “fast-track” competition litigation procedure. As we previously reported, the procedure was designed to provide primarily small –Read More–

On the 2nd March 2016, the German Federal Cartel Office (FCO) initiated proceedings against Facebook’s European and German entities, accusing the company of abusing its market power. The case follows a logical progression of regulators seeking to regulate alleged abuses of dominance in new technologies as they impact upon consumers. The first such target was software, then search engines, and now social media websites. An abuse of dominance is a competition law offence under Article 102 of the TFEU. It –Read More–

On the 8th December 2015, Qualcomm, the world’s largest supplier of smartphone chipsets, was publicly accused by the European Commission of abusing its dominant position in the markets for 3G and 4G baseband chipsets. This move by the Commission is significant as it follows a well established formula of the EU Commission taking on high profile cases against major global technology firms and follows the opening of an investigation into Qualcomm in July this year. This has again sparked accusations –Read More–

On 20th July 2015, it was reported in the High Court how Telefonica, the owner of O2 and the UK telecoms giant, had been hit by an interim injunction by a small business (Packet Media Limited) who believed that Telefonica were abusing their position of dominance in the wholesale provision of access to call and SMS text origination. The case is important in showing the growth of competition litigation in the UK, and the protection it affords small businesses who –Read More–

On 6 August 2015, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) announced that it had sent a statement of objections to a major pharmaceutical producer and a large distributor, over their pricing of an anti-epilepsy drug. The case is significant as high or excessive prices are thought to be common in the pharmaceutical sector. The CMA have based their objections on a breach of Chapter II of the Competition Act 1998, that being the prohibition against an abuse of a dominant position. –Read More–

On the 16 July 2015, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) handed down judgment in Huawei Technologies Co Ltd v ZTE Corp (Case C-170/13). The case concerns a standard-essential patent (SEP); a type of patent which the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) considers sufficiently important for the future growth and evolution of technology in a particular sector that it ought not be subject to the same rules and laws as regular intellectual property rights. The owner of –Read More–

On 21 April 2015, the French Competition Authority (“FCA”) issued its decision on Booking.com’s revised commitments regarding price parity clauses (decision n°15-D-06). The anti-competitive effects of price parity clauses – or most favored nation clauses – used by online travel agencies (“OTAs”) in their contracts with hoteliers have been under increasing scrutiny by both national courts and EU regulators over the past two years (see the first two articles of the February 2015 edition of the EU & Competition Law –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–

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–

Date: 18 March 2015 Time: 8AM PST, 10AM CST, 11AM EST, 4PM GMT, 5PM CET Aftermarkets are particularly important to manufacturers of complex technical equipment. The downstream market for maintenance and support of both hardware and software is highly profitable and particularly coveted by proprietary equipment manufacturers, often as a means to recoup their substantial investments in research and development.  In many cases these markets are contested by independent service organizations (“ISOs”), which frequently come into conflict with the manufacturers. In –Read More–

Aftermarkets are particularly important to manufacturers of complex technical equipment. The downstream market for maintenance and support of both hardware and software is highly profitable and particularly coveted by proprietary equipment manufacturers, often as a means to recoup their substantial investments in research and development. In many cases these markets are contested by independent service organisations (“ISOs”), which frequently come into conflict with the manufacturers. In this short article we provide a critical assessment of how US and EU Courts and –Read More–

On February 19, 2015, Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York ruled in favor of the United States Department of Justice (“DOJ”) and held that the American Express (“Amex”) anti-steering rules (so-called Non-Discrimination Provisions or “NDPs”) violated Section 1 of the Sherman Act. The problems with NDPs, at least at first blush, are evident.  As Judge Garaufis posed the issue: “[A]ll else being equal, a given merchant might prefer that –Read More–

On 10 February 2015, it was reported that Qualcomm, a US NASDAQ listed manufacturer of mobile phone microchips, paid a $975m fine to the Chinese National Development and Reform Commission (“NDRC”) to settle allegations of anti-competitive behaviour. The fine is equivalent to around 8% of Qualcomm’s 2013 Chinese turnover. The fine was reduced from 10% due to Qualcomm’s eventual co-operation in settlement (though they did initially challenge the NDRC’s case). Despite the fine being the largest in Chinese corporate history, –Read More–

On 21 January 2015, Ofgem, the UK energy regulator, announced that it was investigating Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) to determine whether the provider had abused a dominant position and put its competitors at a disadvantage in the electricity connections market. What is special about this particular investigation is that SSE are being investigated for an abuse of dominance under Article 102 of the TFEU, that being a competition law offence, rather than the normal route of market participants being –Read More–

On 15 January 2015, Ofcom announced that it had sent a draft pricing rule to the European Commission made under its “ex ante” regulatory powers rather than competition law. The rule would mean that BT, as the former national telecoms company and owner of much of the infrastructure, would have to maintain a sufficient margin between its wholesale and retail superfast broadband charges to allow competitors such as TalkTalk and Sky to compete. What this means is that if BT –Read More–

On 26 November 2014, EU Advocate General (AG) Wathelet delivered his opinion in the closely followed Huawei v ZTE patent dispute. Although the opinion is not binding, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) follows the AG’s opinion in around 80% of cases. The AG tries to steer a middle course of balancing the interests of both patent holder and putative licensee but he ultimately sides with the rights of the licensee in such battles. The opinion almost rules out the –Read More–

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