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State aid: Commission adopts Framework to enable Member States to further support the economy in the COVID-19 outbreak

Following COVID-19 outbreak, on March 19th, the European Commission adopted a Temporary Framework to enable Member States to use the full flexibility foreseen under State aid rules to support the economy. The legal basis for the Temporary Framework is Article 107(3)(b) TFEU, which allows the Commission to declare compatible with the single European market aid…

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The European Commission fines Barclays, RBS, Citigroup, JPMorgan and MUFG €1.07 billion for participating in foreign exchange spot trading cartels

On May 16th, 2019, the European Commission announced that it has entered into two settlements decisions with five banks (Barclays, The Royal Bank of Scotland, Citigroup, JPMorgan and MUFG), which have been fined €1.07 billion for taking part in two cartels in the Spot Foreign Exchange market for 11 currencies – namely Euro, British Pound,…

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The European Commission fines AB InBev €200 million for restricting cross-border sales of beer

On May 13th, 2019, the European Commission fined (AB InBev) more than €200 million for abusing its dominant position on the Belgian beer market by hindering cheaper imports of its Jupiler beer from the Netherlands into Belgium. AB InBev is the world’s biggest beer brewer. Its most popular beer brand in Belgium is Jupiler, which…

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Inter-regional interchange fees: the EU Commission accepts commitments by Mastercard and Visa

On April 29th, 2019, the European Commission announced that it has made the commitments offered by Mastercard and Visa legally binding. Therefore, the companies should significantly reduce (on average by around 40%) their multilateral interchange fees (MIF) for payments in the European Economic Area (EEA) with consumer cards issued elsewhere. Inter-regional interchange fees are MIFs…

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The EU Commission sends statement of objections to BMW, Daimler and VW for restricting competition on emission cleaning technology

On April 5th, 2019, the European Commission has informed BMW, Daimler and VW (Volkswagen, Audi, Porsche) of its preliminary view that, from 2006 to 2014, they have colluded to restrict competition on the development of technology to clean the emissions of petrol and diesel passenger cars. According to the Commission, this collusion occurred in the…

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The EU Commission sends statements of objections to Valve and five videogame publishers on geo-blocking of PC video games

On April 5th, 2019, the EU Commission sent Valve and five PC video game publishers (Bandai Namco, Capcom, Focus Home, Koch Media and ZeniMax) statements of objections in which it alleged that the companies breached EU competition rules by preventing consumers from purchasing videogames cross-border from other EU Member States. Valve is the owner of…

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The EU Commission fines Nike €12.5 million for restricting cross-border sales of merchandising products

On March 25, 2019, the European Commission has fined Nike €12.5 million for banning traders from selling licensed merchandise to other countries within the EEA. The restriction concerned merchandising products of some of Europe’s best-known football clubs and federations, for which Nike held the licence. In June 2017 the Commission opened an antitrust investigation into…

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The EU Commission fines Google €1.49 billion for abusing its market dominance in online search advertising

The European Commission has just announced to have fined Google €1.49 billion for abusing its market dominance in the online search advertising intermediation market. In particular, the Commission has firstly alleged that Google is dominant in the market for online search advertising intermediation in the EEA because of its very high market shares, exceeding 85%…

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Car safety equipment suppliers fined a total of € 368 million

The EU Commission has fined the car safety equipment suppliers Autoliv and TRW € 368 277 000 for taking part into two cartels for the supply of car safety equipments to European car producers. The suppliers acknowledged their involvement in the cartels and agreed to settle the case. According to the Commission, the three car equipment…

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The European Commission fines Mastercard €570 million for limiting merchants’ access to cross-border card payment services

On January 22, 2019, the European Commission fined Mastercard €570 million on the assumption that its card scheme limited the possibility for merchants to benefit from better conditions offered by banks established elsewhere in the Single Market in contrast with the European competition rules. Mastercard offers a bank card scheme in the European Economic Area…

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The EU Commission fines Guess almost €40 million for anticompetitive agreements to block cross-border sales

The European Commission has fined Guess for restricting retailers from online advertising and selling cross-border to consumers in other Member States in breach of article 101 of TFEU. Because of Guess cooperation with the Commission, a reduction of the fine by 50% has been applied and the fine imposed amounts to €39.821.000,00. The Commission opened…

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The EU Commission fines the BEH Group € 77 million for blocking access to key natural gas infrastructure in Bulgaria

The European Commission has fined the Bulgarian Energy Holding (“BEH”), its gas supply subsidiary Bulgargaz and its gas infrastructure subsidiary Bulgartransgaz (“the BEH group”) €77.068.000,00 for blocking competitors’ access to key gas infrastructure in Bulgaria in breach of article 102 of TFEU. The Commission opened a formal investigation into the BEH Group’s behaviour on July…

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The GC reduces Servier’s fine by more than Euro 100 million

In case T-691/14, the General Court of the European Union (the “GC”) has reduced Servier’s fine for abuse of dominance position through a pay-for-delay practice by €102.67 million. According to the GC, the European Commission (the “Commission”) incorrectly defined the relevant market and it erroneously limited the market to perindopril, while it should have included…

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The CJEU rules on the application of jurisdiction clauses in action for antitrust damages

In case Apple Sales International et al. v. MJA (acting as liquidator of eBizcuss.com) (C-595/17), the Court of Justice of the European Union (“CJEU”) has recently affirmed that a jurisdiction clause is applicable to an action for damages brought by a distributor against its supplier for antitrust damages, despite it does not expressly refer to disputes…

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Google fined €4.34 billion for illegal practices regarding Android mobile devices

On 18 July, 2018, the European Commission fined Google a record €4.3 billion fine for imposing restrictions on Android device makers and mobile network operators. It must now put an end to this conduct within 90 days or face penalty payments. The commission’s Directorate-General for Competition formally launched the investigation in 2015, after receiving several…

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Cartel settlements: the European Commission fines maritime car carriers and car parts suppliers a total of €546 million

  On February 21, 2018, in three separate settlement decisions, the European Commission fined four maritime car carriers €395 million, two suppliers of spark plugs €76 million, and two suppliers of braking systems €75 million for having concluded anti-competitive agreements in breach of article 101 TFEU. I. Maritime car carriers The Commission found that the…

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The European Commission fines Qualcomm €997 million for exclusivity rebates

The European Commission has fined Qualcomm €997m for abusing its market dominance in LTE baseband chipsets. According to the Commission, its exclusivity rebates with Apple illegally shut out rivals from the 4G baseband chipsets market. Baseband chipsets are used in smartphones and tablets to connect them to mobile networks for voice and data transmission. LTE…

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International Skating Union’s rules in breach of European competition rules

On December 8, 2017, the European Commission found that International Skating Union’s (“ISU”) rules imposing penalties on athletes, who participate in speed skating competitions that have not been authorised by the ISU, are in breach of antitrust law. The ISU is the sole body recognised by the International Olympic Committee to administer the sports of figure…

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The Commission fines five car safety equipment suppliers

The European Commission has fined Tokai Rika, Takata, Autoliv, Toyoda Gosei and Marutaka a total of € 34 million for breaching EU antitrust rules. The five suppliers acknowledged their involvement in the cartels and agreed to settle the case. Takata was not fined for three of the cartels as it revealed their existence to the…

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The Bundeskartellamt launches a sector inquiry into “online price comparison websites”

On October 24, 2017, the to ensure that the consumers can count on their reliability, objectivity and transparency. The inquiry will focus on comparison websites active in the area of travel, insurance, financial services, telecommunications and energy. The authority is going to send questionnaires to a large number of website operators on topics such as…

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The trucks cartel: the Commission fines Scania €880 523 000

On September 27, 2017, the European Commission found that Scania broke EU antitrust rules. The collusion concerned the new emission technologies required by the Euro III to Euro VI environmental standards, specifically coordination on timing and coordination on passing on of costs of emission technologies for trucks compliant with newly introduced emissions standards. The infringement…

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Cathode ray tube appeals: the ECJ rejects LG and Philips’ appeals

On September 15, 2017, the ECJ rejected LG Electronics’ (“LG”) and Philips Electronics’ (“Philips”) appeals against the General Court’s judgment of 2015 that confirmed the Commission’s infringement decision in the cathode ray tube (“CRT”) cartel. The judgment today ends the companies’ fight against the 2012 fines for their involvement in the cartel by the CRT manufacturing joint venture…

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Excessive pricing: ECJ’s ruling in the Latvia’s case

On September 15, 2017, in case C-177/16, the European Court of Justice (“ECJ”) ruled that comparing prices between EU member states is a valid way to determine whether prices may be abusively excessive and competition regulators have a certain margin of discretion in deciding whether prices are excessive in the absence of a single adequate…

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Exclusivity rebates: the ECJ refers Intel antitrust case to the General Court

The European Court of Justice (“ECJ”) sets aside the judgment of the General Court, which had upheld the fine of 1.06 billion euros imposed on Intel by the Commission for abuse of a dominant position.  The case is now referred back to the General Court in order for it to examine the arguments put forward…

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Online sales ban on golf clubs: the CMA has fined Ping £1.45m

On 24 August 2017, the Competition and Markets Authority (“CMA”) adopted an infringement decision against the Golf club manufacturer Ping Europe Limited (“Ping”) for banning UK retailers from selling its golf clubs online. More precisely, Ping was found to breach Chapter I of the Competition Act 1998 and Article 101 TFEU by preventing two UK…

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Tax exemptions for ports in Belgium and France

On 27 July 2017, the European Commission has required Belgium and France to abolish the corporate tax exemptions granted to their ports on the basis that profits by port operators must be taxed under normal national corporate tax laws to comply with European State aid rules. Therefore, if port operators generate profits from economic activities,…

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The ECJ confirms the €61.44 million fine against Toshiba for its participation in the GIS cartel

On 6 July 2017, the European Court of Justice (“ECJ”) has rejected Toshiba’s appeal against the judgment of the General Court of 19 January 2016 and upheld the €61.44 million fine imposed by the Commission against Toshiba (of which €4.65 million jointly and severally with Mitsubishi) for its participation in the gas insulated switchgear (“GIS”)…

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Google Shopping: the European Commission has fined Google €2.42 billion for abusing dominance as search engine

On June 27, 2017, the European Commission has fined Google €2.42 billion for having abused its alleged market dominance as a search engine by giving an illegal advantage to its comparison shopping service. According to the Commission, Google is dominant in the search engine market by providing search results to consumers who pay for the…

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Cartel settlement: the European Commission fines car lighting system producers €27 million

On June 21, 2017, the European Commission has fined Automotive Lighting and Hella a total of €26.744.000 for participating in an automotive lighting cartel. The cartel concerned the supply of vehicle lighting systems, that include parts such as headlamps or daytime running lights, to manufacturers of passenger and commercial vehicles after the end of mass…

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Spanish raw tobacco cartel: the Commission adopts an amending decision

On June 20, the European Commission has adopted an amending decision concerning the Spanish raw tobacco cartel. In 2004, the Commission fined five companies active in the Spanish raw tobacco market a total of €20 million for fixing the prices paid to, and the quantities bought from, tobacco growers in Spain. World Wide Tobacco España…

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Price-fixing cartel in the envelopes market: the European Commission re-imposes a €4.7 million fine on Printeos

  The European Commission has readopted a cartel settlement decision against the envelopes manufacturer Printeos and it has re-imposed a fine of €4,729,000 for its participation in a price fixing cartel. In December 2014, in order to close the Commission’s investigation, Printeos and four other manufacturers entered into a settlement agreement.  However, in December 2016…

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Licensing and distribution agreements of Nike, Sanrio and Universal Studios: the European Commission opens formal investigations

On 14 June 2017, the European Commission has opened three separate antitrust investigations to investigate whether certain licensing and distribution practices of Nike, Sanrio and Universal Studios illegally restrict their licensees from selling the licensed merchandise cross-border and online. More specifically, the investigations concern the licensing and distribution of merchandising products, such as clothes, shoes,…

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Distribution agreements in the clothing market: the European Commission opens formal investigation into distribution practices of clothing company Guess

On 6 June 2017, the European Commission has opened a formal antitrust investigation into the distribution agreements and practices of clothing manufacturer and retailer Guess. Guess operates as a manufacturer, distributor and licensor of clothing and accessories. According to the opening statement, the investigation is aimed at ascertaining whether Guess illegally restricted retailers from selling…

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Gas export restrictions from Romania: the European Commission opens an investigation

On 1 June 2017, the European Commission has opened a formal investigation to assess whether Romania’s gas transmission system operator Transgaz has abused a dominant position by hindering gas exports from Romania to the other  EU Member States and isolating the Romanian gas market to the detriment of consumers throughout the EU. Romania is the…

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State aid: the European Commission has widened the scope of the General Block Exemption Regulation

The 2014 General Block exemption Regulation (the “Regulation”) exempts certain categories of state aid from the requirement of prior notification to the Commission and they can be implemented by Member States without prior Commission approval, provided they meet certain requirements and they are unlikely to distort competition in the single market. The decision to widen…

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Excessive pricing: the European Commission opens formal investigation into Aspen Pharma’s pricing practices for cancer medicines

On 15 May 2017 the European Commission has opened its first excessive pricing investigation in the pharmaceutical industry to assess whether Aspen Pharma has abused a dominant position by charging excessive pricing for five life-saving cancer medicines. More specifically, the investigation concerns Aspen’s pricing practices for niche medicines used for treating cancer, such as hematologic…

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The European Commission accepts Amazon’s commitments in the e-book case

  The European Commission has rendered legally binding the commitments offered by Amazon in the e-book case. The Commission opened an antitrust investigation in June 2015 to assess whether some clauses included in Amazon’s agreements with publishers for the distribution of English and German language e-books in the European Union complied with competition law. In particular,…

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THE AUSTRIAN CARTEL COURT IMPOSES FINES FOR PRICE MAINTENANCE AND OTHER VERTICAL RESTRAINTS

The Austrian Cartel Court fined De’Longhi-Kenwood with EUR 650.000 for fixing prices with retailers, restricting cross-border trade and introducing a full blown online-distribution-prohibition. In the years 2006-2015 staff of De’Longhi-Kenwood observed the market multiple-times during the week and pressured retailers through immediate contacts (via email or telephone conversations) when price-discrepancies from the established minimum-prices were…

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THE ITALIAN ANTITRUST AUTHORITY LAUNCHES PROBE INTO ANTICOMPETITIVE PRACTICES IN THE ULTRA-BROADBAND MARKET

On 1 February 2017, the Italian Competition Authority (ICA) formally opened an investigation into Telecom Italy S.p.A. and Fastweb S.p.A. agreements for a possible violation of Art. 101 TFEU. The investigation concerns the agreement with which the undertakings in question created a joint cooperative company, called Flash Fiber Srl, for the construction of optical fiber…

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THE AUSTRIAN CARTEL COURT IMPOSES SEVERE FINES AGAINST SPAR GROUP FOR PRICE FIXING CONDUCTS

The Austrian Cartel Court held that between July 2002 and December 2013 the companies HOLDAG BeteiligungsgmbH, INTERSPAR GmbH, SPAR HOLDING AG, SPAR Österreichische Warenhandels-AG, Maximarkt Handels-GmbH and LM Beteiligungs GmbH fixed vertical retail prices with various suppliers in regards to various areas of the food retail sector. In particular the practices affected the market segments…

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THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION LAUNCHES THREE FORMAL INVESTIGATIONS INTOE-COMMERCE PRACTICES

In the press release published on 2 February 2017, the Commission has announced the opening of the formal proceedings that aim to verify the existence of anticompetitive online sales practices concerning consumer electronics, video games and hotel accommodation. The investigations are conducted in the context of Article 101 TFEU that prohibits anti-competitive agreements between companies.…

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THE EUROPEAN COURT OF JUSTICE CONFIRMS THE LAWFULNESS OF THE RTVE FUNDING SCHEME

On 10 November 2016, the Court of Justice of the European Union ruled that the new Spanish funding scheme for the public television system (RTVE) is not in violation of EU State aid law. Corporación de Radio y Televisión Española (RTVE) is the Spanish public radio and television broadcasting organisation, which relied on a dual…

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THE COMMISSION HAS ISSUED A STATEMENT OF OBJECTIONS TO THE INTERNATIONAL SKATING UNION

On 27 September 2016, the Commission has sent the Statement of Objections to the International Skating Union (ISU) in the context of the ISU Eligibility rules relating to the participation of athletes in the international speed skating events. The preliminary findings indicate that the rules, which set out that penalties should be imposed on the…

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THE GENERAL COURT CONFIRMS THE COMMISSION’S DECISION IN THE LUNDBECK PAY-FOR-DELAY CASE

On 8 Setptember 2016, the General Court handed down its judgment in the Sun Pharmaceuticals Industries and Ranbaxy v Commission case, confirming the fines imposed by the Commission´s decision in 2013. The Court agreed that the agreement under scrutiny resulted in a restriction of competition by object. But firsts things first, the case regards the…

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THE GENERAL COURT UPHOLDS A COMMISSION DECISION FINDING THE UNLAWFULNESS OF A NON-COMPETITION CLAUSE BETWEEN PT AND TELEFÓNICA WITH RESPECT TO TELEFÓNICA’S ACQUISITION OF THE BRAZILIAN MOBILE OPERATOR VIVO

With a judgment rendered on 28 June 2016 (Joint Cases T-208/13 and T-216/13), the General Court dismissed, almost in their entirety, the actions brought by PT and Telefónica against the decision by which the Commission, in 2013, and sanctioned the two incumbent operators in the area of electronic communications for a market-sharing agreement, enacted through a…

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THE ECJ UPHOLDS TWO JUDGMENTS OF THE GENERAL COURT IN THE CALCIUM CARBIDE CARTEL

On 16 June 2016, the Court of Justice of the European Union rejected the appeals brought by SKW (C-154/14 P) and Degussa (C-155/14 P) against the General Court’s rulings, which had upheld the decision adopted by the Commission in the calcium carbide cartel. By that decision, the Commission had fined 9 suppliers of calcium carbide…

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THE COMMISSION FILES A STATEMENT OF OBJECTIONS AGAINST GOOGLE OVER ANDROID OPERATING SYSTEM AND APPLICATIONS

According to the preliminary view of the European Commission expressed on 20 April, Google has violated EU competition law by imposing restrictions on Android device manufacturers and mobile network operators. The Statement of Objections addressed to Google and to its parent company, Alphabet, specified that Google’s strategy concerning mobile devices has aimed to strengthen and…

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THE COMMISSION PUBLISHES ITS PRELIMINARY FINDINGS CONCERNING GEO-BLOCKING PRACTICES IN THE EU

On 18 March, the Commission has published its preliminary findings regarding geo-blocking in the EU. They demonstrate that practices whereby consumers are prevented from purchasing goods and accessing digital content online are widespread in the EU and may trigger competition concerns. This analysis forms part of the competition e-commerce sector inquiry launched in May 2015.…

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THE ECJ QUASHES THE COMMISSION DECISIONS RELATING TO REQUESTS FOR INFORMATION ADDRESSED TO CEMENT PRODUCERS FOR BEING INADEQUATELY REASONED

On 10 March, the European Court of Justice delivered four judgments finding that the requests for information sent in 2011 by the Commission to a number of cement manufacturers, in the context of an infringement procedure, lacked an adequate statement of reasons and were therefore unlawful (see C‑247/14 P HeidelbergCement; C‑248/14 P Schwenk Zement; C‑267/14…

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THE CATALAN COMPETITION AUTHORITY (ACCO) HAS IMPOSED A FINE OF 950,000 EUROS TO FOUR SUCCESSFUL BIDDERS IN THE AREA OF REHABILITATION SERVICES

The four sanctioned companies are Fisioterapia, Iriteb, L’Eivax y Centro de Accidentes Laborales y Rehabilitación Gramenet (Carlg). The fines imposed are the following: Fisioterapia: 600,000 euros; Iriteb has been fined 240,000 euros, L’Eivax 80,000 euros and Carlg 30,000 euros. According to research conducted by ACCO, it has been concluded that after the public tender called…

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APPLY NOW – II EDITION TRENTO SUMMER SCHOOL ON ADVANCED EU COMPETITION LAW & ECONOMICS, MOENA 12-18 JUNE 2016

The SECOND EDITION WILL TAKE PLACE IN MOENA (Italian Dolomites) FROM 12 to 18 JUNE 2016. The Summer School is organised by the Osservatorio Permanente sull’Applicazione delle Regole di Concorrenza based at Faculty of Law of Trento University (“Osservatorio Antitrust”). The Summer School is co-directed by Gian Antonio Benacchio and Michele Carpagnano. The Summer School offers a unique opportunity to analyse and study EU Competition Law…

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THE GENERAL COURT UPHOLDS (WITH ONE EXCEPTION) THE FINES IMPOSED BY THE COMMISSION ON COMPANIES INVOLVED IN THE AIR FREIGHT FORWARDING CARTEL

On February 29, the General Court issued six judgments ruling on the cartel fines imposed by the Commission on several companies in the sector of international air freight forwarding services. In 2012, the Commission imposed fines amounting to a total of € 169 million on 14 international groups of companies active in the sector of…

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THE SPANISH COMPETITION AUTHORITY REQUIRES THE GOVERNMENT TO ELIMINATE ANTICOMPETITIVE RESTRICTIONS IN THE MARKET OF PASSENGER TRANSPORT BY ROAD

The CNMC has required the Ministry of Public Works to eliminate anticompetitive restrictions on passenger transport in the segment of hiring a car with driver (VTC). These restrictions have been introduced by the Royal Decree 1057/2015, which incorporates obstacles to competition that have no economic justification. The restrictions detected by the CNMC are the following:…

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THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION ISSUES TWO STATEMENTS OF OBJECTIONS TO QUALCOMM

The European Commission has issued two connected statements of objections to Qualcomm for exclusive dealings and predatory pricing, both potentially bringing about anti-competitive effects. The investigation against Qualcomm was opened in July 2015, when the Commission disclosed concerns about a possible abuse of dominant position by Qualcomm in the baseband chipset market. Eventually, at the…

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THE COMMISSION LAUNCHES INVESTIGATION INTO MCDONALD’S TAX DEALS

On 3 December, the Commission announced that it launched a formal investigation into Luxembourg’s tax treatment of McDonald’s. The investigation aims to verify the concerns that two tax rulings issued by Luxembourg in 2009 provided McDonald’s with an advantageous tax treatment in violation of EU state aid rules. According to the preliminary observations of the…

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THE COURT OF APPEAL OF PARIS REVERSES THE GOOGLE JUDGMENT IN THE MAP PLUGIN SECTOR

On 25 November 2015, the Court of Appeal of Paris allowed the appeal of Google against a first instance decision granting damages to Evermaps for abuse of dominant position of Google. The two companies are direct competitors in the online map sector, as both companies offer a mapping service that allows users to embed a…

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THE COMMISSION ANNNOUNCES ITS DECISIONS ON TAX RULINGS ISSUED BY LUXEMBOURG AND THE NETHERLANDS

On 21 October, the Commission announced its decisions whereby Luxembourg and Netherlands are found to have violated EU state aid rules, as they granted selective tax advantages to Fiat Finance and Trade and Starbucks respectively by issuing tax rulings artificially lowering the tax paid by the companies. These decisions followed in-depth investigations that were opened…

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THE ECJ ISSUES THE POST DANMARK JUDGMENT CONCERNING THE REBATE SCHEME’S COMPATIBILITY WITH ARTICLE 102

On 6 October the European Court of Justice delivered the Post Danmark judgement in which it gave a preliminary ruling on the interpretation of a rebate scheme under Article 102 TFEU. In 2007 and 2008 Post Danmark A/S implemented a retroactive rebate scheme in the context of distribution of bulk advertising mail to recipients in…

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The General Court rules on cartel fines for Toshiba and Panasonic imposed in relation to cathode ray tubes sector

On 9 September the General Court issued the judgments reducing the fines imposed by the Commission in 2012 (Case COMP/39.437) on Panasonic and Toshiba for their involvement in a cartel on the European market for picture tubes for television sets. Following the leniency application submitted by Chunghwa, the Commission imposed in the contested decision the…

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HUAWEI V ZTE: OPEN ISSUES AFTER ECJ’S JUDGMENT

Comment by Marco Lo Bue (Italian Competition Authority) On 16 July 2015, the European Court of Justice addressed the request for a preliminary ruling submitted by the District Court of Dűsseldorf with regard to the Huawei v ZTE case . The referring Court had raised the question whether an action for infringement brought by a FRAND-encumbered…

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THE COMMISSION FILES STATEMENT OF OBJECTIONS IN THE PAY-TV SERVICES PROCEEDINGS AGAINST SKY UK AND US FILM STUDIOS

On 23 July, the European Commission has filed a formal Statement of Objections against Sky UK and six major US film studios (Disney, NBCUniversal, Paramount Pictures, Sony, Twentieth Century Fox, Warner Bros), having preliminarily determined that their bilateral licensing agreements containing clauses that inhibit access to pay-TV services for consumers located outside the UK and…

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HUNGARY’S FOOD CHAIN INSPECTION FEE AND TOBACCO TAX ARE UNDER THE COMMISSION’S STATE AID INVESTIGATIONS

As maintained in the statement published by the Commission on 15 July, Hungary’s amended ‘food chain inspection fee’ and a new tobacco tax, in particular the progressive nature of the rates based on companies’ turnover, may prove to amount to the infringement of EU state aid provisions. The Commission, concerned that companies with a lower…

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THE EUROPEAN COURT OF JUSTICE DECIDES THE HUAWEI CASE ON STANDARD ESSENTIAL PATENTS

The European Court of Justice delivered, on 16 July, its judgment on the preliminary ruling regarding the Huawei case, stating that an action brought by an undertaking in dominant position, seeking injunction and compensation against an alleged infringer of a SEP, not necessarily infringes Article 102 TFEU. Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd (‘Huawei’) owns – inter…

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THE COMMISSION LAUNCHES FORMAL COMPETITION INVESTIGATIONS AGAINST QUALCOMM

The Commission announced on 16 July the launch of two investigations against Qualcomm, with a view to determine whether the company has engaged in practices abusing its market position under Article 102 TFEU. The proceedings concern the field of baseband chipsets that are the crucial components of consumer electronic devices, such as smartphones or tablets.…

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THE ECJ’S JUDGMENT IN THE LCD PANELS CARTEL CASE UPHOLDS THE €288 MILLION FINE IMPOSED ON INNOLUX

The judgment rendered by the Court of Justice on 9 July 2015 dismisses in its entirety the appeal by InnoLux seeking a reduction in the amount of the fine imposed for its involvement in the cartel concerning LCD panels. In December 2010, the Commission adopted the decision ascertaining that six major international manufacturers of LCD…

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THE COMMISSION ISSUES STATEMENT OF OBJECTIONS AGAINST MASTERCARD IN RELATION TO CARD PAYMENT COSTS

On 9 July 2015, following formal proceedings launched in April 2013, the European Commission issued a Statement of Objections against MasterCard in which it formulated competition concerns in relation to the costs of card payments in the EU. Under discussion are interchange fees paid by the retailer’s bank (the ‘acquiring bank’) to the bank of…

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NATIONAL COURTS’ INVESTIGATIVE POWERS AND BURDEN OF PROOF: THE ITALIAN COURT OF CASSATION REINTERPRETS NATIONAL PROCEDURAL LAWS ON THE BASIS OF THE DIRECTIVE 104/2014

The burden of proof falling on the claimant in competition damages actions, especially if stand-alone type, is notoriously fraught with difficulty. As a consequence, if the national judge interprets the domestic procedural laws in a strict and formalistic manner, this may render the burden not just difficult but nearly close to impossible. The Italian Court…

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THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION FINES A CARTEL IN THE RETAIL PACKAGING TRAYS MARKET

The European Commission has fined ten undertakings participating in five different cartels in the market of retail packaging trays. Eight manufacturers (Huhtamäki of Finland, Nespak and Vitembal of France, Silver Plastics of Germany, Coopbox, Magic Pack and Sirap-Gema of Italy and Linpac of the UK) and two distributors (Ovarpack of Portugal and Propack of the…

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A PRESUMPTION OF CONFIDENTIALITY: THE GENERAL COURT ADDS NEW RESTRICTIONS TO THE ACCESS TO DOCUMENTATION OF PROCEEDINGS

With a recent judgment in the case T-623/13, the General Court ratified the presumption used by the European Commission for which documents exchanged between the Commission and a national competition authority in proceedings concerning an infringement of the competition rules may harm the commercial interest of the undertakings involved and therefore are not, in principle,…

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ANTITRUST AUTHORITIES OF ITALY, FRANCE AND SWEDEN ACCEPT BOOKING.COM’S COMMITMENTS

The Italian, French and Swedish Antitrust Authorities, in coordination with the European Commission, have accepted the commitments submitted by Booking.com. The three national watchdogs launched domestic investigations on the online travel agent in 2014, to which followed a market test of the European Commission. The main concern of these investigations were the so-called “parity clauses”…

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SÜDZUCKER FACES DAMAGES ACTIONS FOLLOWING THE GERMAN SUGAR CARTEL DECISION

Vivil, a German producer of cough drops and vitamin sweets, sued Südzucker, Europe’s largest sugar refiner, for compensation of damages caused by the German ‘sugar cartel’. The defendant participated, together with Nordzucker and Pfeifer, to anticompetitive agreements on sales areas, quotas and prices. The infringements involved the sale of sugar for the processing industry (so-called industrial…

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THE SPANISH COMPETITION AUTHORITY (CNMC) IMPOSES A FINE OF EUR 8.75 MILLION TO REPSOL FOR NOT COMPLYING WITH A PREVIOUS DECISION

In 2009, the CNMC sanctioned Repsol, Cepsa and BP for indirectly fixing the retail price charged to independent petrol stations that operated under their flag. In doing so, they restricted competition between the petrol stations of their network and all the other petrol stations. This decision aimed at avoiding price fixing of the fuel in…

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APPLY NOW – TRENTO SUMMER SCHOOL ON ADVANCED EU COMPETITION LAW AND ECONOMICS

The Summer School is organised by the Osservatorio Permanente sull’Applicazione delle Regole di Concorrenza based at Faculty of Law of Trento University. The Summer School is co-directed by Gian Antonio Benacchio and Michele Carpagnano. The Summer School offers a unique opportunity to analyse and study EU Competition Law and Economics at an advanced level. This advanced course combines academia with a pragmatic…

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THE SPANISH CNMC HAS INITIATED PROCEEDINGS AGAINST PFIZER

The CNMC, the Spanish Competition Authority, has initiated proceedings against Pfizer for a potential anticompetitive conduct derived from the supply contracts. The referred company signed the contracts with several wholesale distributors. Such supply contracts are deemed to impede effective parallel commerce within the European Union. In 2005, Spain Pharma filed a claim against Pfizer and…

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V TRENTO ANTITRUST CONFERENCE 16-18 APRIL 2015

The fifth edition of the Trento Antitrust Conference will be held in Trento on 16-18 April 2015. The Conference is organized by the Trento Faculty of Law and the Osservatorio Permanente sull’Applicazione delle Regole di Concorrenza (“Antitrust Observatory”), founded and co-directed by Michele Carpagnano and Gian Antonio Benacchio. The event is supported by the Italian…

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THE COMPETITION AND MARKETS AUTHORITY (CMA) CONSULTS ON REDRESS IN COMPETITION CASES

The CMA has opened a consultation on draft guidance on its power to approve redress schemes offered in competition cases. This is due to the new Consumer Rights Act 2015 expected to come into force in October 2015, that will give parties to competition investigations who have breached the law the power to submit a…

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CMA CONSULTS ON MODIFIED MOTOR INSURANCE ORDER

The CMA is consulting on a modified draft order, which sets out how changes resulting from its investigation into private motor insurance will be introduced and monitored. In September last year, the CMA published its final report into private motor insurance which said that it would: ban agreements between price comparison websites and insurers which…

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ADVOCATE GENERAL WAHL DELIVERS OPINION ON DEUTSCHE BAHN’S APPEAL AGAINST EC DAWN RAID IN CASE-583/ 13 – DEUTSCHE BAHN

On 12 February 2015, Advocate General Wahl delivered his opinion to the European Court of Justice (the “ECJ”) in Case C-583/13 Deutsche Bahn AG v European Commission. The appeal concerns Deutsche Bahn’s actions for annulment of three 2011 Commission decisions authorizing unannounced Article 102 inspections at Deutsche Bahn AG’s (and some of its subsidiaries’) premises.…

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THE FRENCH ‘LOI HAMON’ ON COLLECTIVE ACTIONS MATERIALISES THE FIRST RESULTS

Since the entry into force of the ‘Loi Hamon’ on 1 October 2014, introducing the class action in the French system, several claims have been lodged in the competent courts by consumer associations. The first class action was brought by the association UFC – Que Choisir against Foncia, on 1 October 2014, in order to…

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THE GENERAL COURT DECIDES THE EASYJET CASE ABOUT THE COMMISSION’S RIGHT TO REJECT A COMPLAINT

The General Court stated, with decision of 21 January 2015 in the case Easyjet (T-355/13),  that the Commission may reject a complaint on the basis that a national competition authority has already dealt with it. In 2008, EasyJet lodged complaints with the Netherlands competition authority against Schiphol (Luchthaven Schiphol NV) airport’s pricing policies. After the…

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CALL FOR PAPERS: THE COMPETITION LAW SCHOLARS FORUM (CLASF) – WORKSHOP ON “OBJECT AND/OR EFFECTS IN COMPETITION LAW”

The CLaSF is inviting contributions to its forthcoming workshop on “Object and/or effects in Competition Law”, that will be held at the Lancaster Law School, on Friday 24 April 2015.   Call for Papers The Competition Law Scholars Forum (CLaSF) Invite contributions to the XXIV CLaSF event (www.clasf.org) Clasf Workshop on   “Object and/or effects in Competition Law” Lancaster…

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THE GENERAL COURT RULES ON 5 APPEALS AGAINST CANDLE WAX CARTEL DECISION

On 12 December 2014, the General Court of the European Union rejected (partially in one case) the appeals brought by Hansen & Rosenthal, Tudapetrol, ChemPharm, ENI and Repsol against the Commission decision of 1 October 2008. The Commission fined, on that occasion, nine wax producers for price fixing and market sharing and imposed a total…

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THE ECJ SETS ASIDE THE GENERAL COURT’S DECISION IN THE FLAT-GLASS CARTEL CASE AND REDUCES THE FINE ON GUARDIAN

The Court of Justice has set aside the General Court’s ruling in the Guardian case, providing a different approach to the calculation of the fine. The fine for a competition law infringement is generally calculated as a percentage of the undertaking’s annual sales of the product concerned by the infringement. The relevant sales are usually…

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EU COUNCIL GIVES DIRECTIVE ON COMPETITION DAMAGES ACTIONS THE GREEN LIGHT

Today (10 November 2014), the Council formally adopted the corrigendum text as approved by the ECON Committee in September 2014 for the Directive on antitrust damages actions. The text was signed off without amendments and it is therefore expected that the text of the Directive, which will shortly be published in the Official Journal of…

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