parliment flags

On 18 July 2016, Germany moved another step closer to enshrining a right for distributors in selective distribution systems to sell over online marketplaces. This is not sudden move by the German courts, in fact we have reported similar stories in May 2014 and September 2014. The current matter is a request from a German Court for a preliminary ruling by the European Court of Justice (ECJ). The court asked several questions relating to the interpretation of Article 101 of the –Read More–

The 13 July 2016 saw the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) announce that it had sent a questionnaire to a large sample of hotels throughout the UK. As part of a joint monitoring project with the European Commission, this project has also been launched by several competition agencies in the EU. The purpose of the project is to study how changes to hotel room pricing policies and a variety of other investigations have affected the online hotel booking sector. In –Read More–

On 21 April 2016, the Competition and Markets Authority (“CMA”) published an open letter to estate agents in the UK stressing the importance of making independent commercial decisions and warning them against unlawful collaboration in breach of competition law. It was brought to the CMA’s attention that various estate agents were entering into collective decisions to market properties solely on the OnTheMarket Portal and to remove themselves from all other competing portals, including Rightmove and Zoopla. The CMA raises concerns –Read More–

On 26 April 2016, the Competition and Markets Authority (“CMA”) confirmed, following settlement, that it will issue a formal infringement decision to bathroom fittings manufacturer Ultra Finishing Limited (“Ultra”) following investigations opened back in August 2014 into suspected vertical price restraints in place between suppliers and resellers. In our previous update on this issue, we reported that the CMA had, on 28 January 2016, disclosed provisional findings of anti-competitive behaviour in a Statements of Objections. In response, Ultra stated that –Read More–

On 22 April 2016, the European Commission (“EC”) invited industry comment on the commitments proposed by Paramount Pictures International Limited (“Paramount”) in response to concerns raised by the EC. The EC’s concerns were that many of its contractual clauses in licensing agreements with Sky UK Limited (“Sky”) concerning cross-border access to pay-TV content may contravene Article 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (“TFEU”). The EC published a Statement of Objections on 27 July 2015 which highlights –Read More–

On the 18th of March 2016, the EU Commission published initial findings from its e-commerce sector inquiry. The initial findings show a widespread use of geo-blocking throughout retailers in the EU. The findings reaffirm the Commission’s focus on this area and may lead to actions by the Commission later this year. 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 –Read More–

On 18 March 2016, the Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) published only the second case to be brought under the new fast track procedure before the CAT under the provisions of the Consumer Rights Act 2015. The fast track procedure was designed to allow individuals and SMEs a quick and more cost effective way of enforcing their competition rights against big business. It was also a rare case involving the enforceability of land use restrictions which seldom come before the Courts. –Read More–

On the 12th of February 2016, the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) fined GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and the successor companies to Alpharma Limited around £45m in total for breaches of Chapter I of the Competition Act 1998, the prohibition against anti-competitive agreements. The case shows the continued danger in pharmaceuticals reaching settlement agreements in IP disputes with generic drug providers. The case in question relates to agreements between GSK and Alpharma, made between 2001 and 2004. The drug in question –Read More–

The UK Competition and Markets Authority (“CMA”) continues to focus its attention on resale price maintenance particularly where it relates to minimum advertised prices (MAP) on on-line sites. The CMA has a history of targeting this type of behaviour . Minimum advertised prices are generally permitted under US Antitrust law. This case highlights how careful companies, particularly US companies, have to be in relation to their distribution strategies in Europe. On 28 January 2016, issued Statements of Objections (“SOs”) to –Read More–

On the 18 December 2015, the UK Office of Rail and Road (“ORR”) formally accepted commitments from one of the UK’s leading providers of Deep Sea Container (“DSC”) rail transport services, which reportedly “fully address its competition concerns”. The ORR, the UK’s independent regulator and monitor of railways and highways, received complaints of allegedly anti-competitive behaviour and an abuse of dominance on 17 June 2014 in relation to DCS’s arrangements with customers for the supply of its transport services. The ORR launched –Read More–

On 16 December 2015, the General Court of the European Union overturned the European Commission’s 9 November 2010 Airfreight decision (Case C.39258) and, in doing so, annulled one of the largest fines imposed in EU history. If the General Court’s decision is not appealed by the Commission, or if the appeal is not overturned, it will have considerable cost implications for claimants that have launched follow-on damages actions before the English courts and elsewhere. These cases would have relied upon –Read More–

On 3 December 2015, the Competition and Markets Authority (“CMA”) wrote an open letter to private medical practitioners in the UK stressing the importance of making independent commercial decisions and warning against unlawful collaboration with competitors. The open letter follows soon after the CMA’s finding in August 2015 that the Consultant Eye Surgeons Partnership (“CESP”) was responsible for creating anti-competitive pricing agreements across their extensive network of surgeons and medical partnerships; a decision which highlighted an evident lack of competition –Read More–

On 18 November 2015, the French Competition Authority (“FCA”) issued a press release announcing that it was putting an end to its investigation of the contractual practices of Adidas, one of the largest sporting goods manufacturers, as a result of Adidas’s change in its online sales policy. The FCA investigation, (which was carried out in coordination with its German counterpart), centered on the company’s 2012 prohibition for its selective distributors to distribute Adidas France products through multi-brand online “marketplaces”. These –Read More–

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 (see the February 2015 and June 2015 editions of the EU & Competition Law Bulletin). This topic has now been addressed by law-makers in France through a specific amendment to the French Code of Tourism which puts an end to price parity clauses –Read More–

On 15 October 2015, the Competition and Markets Authority (“CMA“) wrote an open letter to UK Head teachers, governing boards and school uniform suppliers, warning them that they may be in breach of Competition Law if their school uniform supply arrangements are found to be anti-competitive in nature. Chapter I of the Competition Act 1998 (“CA“) prohibits agreements which may affect trade within the UK and which have as their object or effect the prevention, restriction or distortion of competition –Read More–

On 27 August 2015, the German Federal Cartel Office (FCO) concluded its competition investigation into the online distribution system of Asics Deutschland, one of Germany’s leading athletics brands. Under German and European competition law, manufacturers of branded products have a right to safeguard quality standards in the distribution of their products and impose requirements to this effect on their authorised dealers. However, these measures may not be allowed to excessively restrict small and medium-sized dealers in their ability to sell –Read More–

According to a decision announced 24 June 2015, the German Federal Cartel Office (the “FCO” or Bundeskartellamt) has imposed fines amounting to 75 million euros on five companies in the automotive supply sector and the staff responsible, which were involved in price fixing agreements regarding so-called acoustically effective components (such as car mats, flooring, and textile wheel house shells) between 2005 and 2013. Based on several bilateral and three different multilateral meetings the fined companies agreed on, inter alia, the –Read More–

The French Competition Authority (“FCA”) is expected to issue a decision shortly on practices implemented by at least four major French companies in the distribution of consumer products to certain overseas departments and territories of France, including Guadeloupe, French Guiana, Martinique, and Saint Martin (the “Territories”). In the Territories, most consumer products are manufactured by French companies based in Continental France, and are then imported and distributed by intermediaries – wholesale importers or designated agents – with a price hike –Read More–

On 3 June 2015, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) sent out 2 open letters addressed to estate agents and newspapers warning them of the risk and consequences of breaking competition law. The CMA hopes that these open letters will promote the lessons to be learned and encourage best practice in the future. The letters come as a result of an association of 3 estate agents and a newspaper publisher being found guilty of anti-competitive behaviour in March 2015. The –Read More–

On 6 May 2015, the European Commission announced that it had launched a sector inquiry under Council Regulation 1/2003 into the e-commerce sector, regarding the ability of suppliers, wholesalers and resellers to sell their goods and services over the internet. The Commission has the power to conduct inspections and even impose fines and other sanctions for competition law infringements it may find while carrying out its sectorial review. One of the Commission’s main concerns is the lack of cross-border internet –Read More–