Latest News issue: August 2018

Anticompetitive practices

The EU Commission fines consumer electronics’ manufacturers a total of €111 million for resale price maintenance, granting substantial reductions in the fines through the cooperation procedure (Asus / Denon & Marantz / Philips / Pioneer)
Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
According to a press release and statement issued on 24 July 2018, the European Commission has, in four separate decisions, fined consumer electronics manufacturers Asus, Denon & Marantz, Philips and Pioneer a total of €111 million for engaging in resale price maintenance during periods (...)

The EU Commission fines four consumer electronics manufacturers for fixing online resale prices (Asus / Denon & Marantz / Philips / Pioneer)
DG COMP (Brussels)
Antitrust: Commission fines four consumer electronics manufacturers for fixing online resale prices* The European Commission today fined, in four separate decisions, consumer electronics manufacturers Asus, Denon & Marantz, Philips and Pioneer for imposing fixed or minimum resale prices on (...)

The Paris Court of Appeal confirms the decision of the Competition Authority but reduces fines in the parcel delivery services cartel case (Traditional and express delivery service)
Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
On 19 July 2018, the Paris Court of Appeal (the “Court”) delivered a judgment in connection with the parcel delivery services cartel case (see VBB on Competition Law, Volume 2016, No. 1). The Court confirmed most of the findings of the French Competition Authority (“FCA”), including that the (...)

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirms a grant of summary judgment in favor of defendants in an old case alleging an unlawful conspiracy in the single-copy magazine industry (Anderson News)
Dechert (Philadelphia)
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Dechert (Philadelphia)
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed a grant of summary judgment on July 19, 2018, in favor of defendants in a nearly decade-old case alleging an unlawful conspiracy in the single-copy magazine industry. The decision clarifies the application of the Supreme Court’s (...)

The Moscow Arbitration Appeal Court confirms the decision of the Competition Authority concerning a cartel on the market of civilian filtering gas masks
Russian Federal Antimonopoly Service (Moscow)
Appeal Court supported FAS in a case against a 20-member cartel* The total fines imposed upon manufacturers and suppliers of civilian gas masks exceeded 75 million RUB The 9th Arbitration Appeal Court in Moscow reversed the ruling of the Court of First Instance and agreed with FAS arguments. (...)

The French Competition Authority rejects the request for interim measures filed by a law firm relating to practices implemented by the Toulouse Bar Association (AGN Avocats)
French Competition Authority (Paris)
Law firms* The Autorité de la concurrence rejects the request for interim measures filed by the company AGN Avocats relating to practices implemented by the Toulouse Bar Association, but pursues the investigation into the merits of the case. The company AGN Avocats Développement, hereinafter (...)

The Russian Competition Authority exposes the first cartel in Dagestan in the medicine sector (Medpharmasnab / RegionPharma / Dagmedtechnika / Globalmedtech)
Russian Federal Antimonopoly Service (Moscow)
FAS exposed the first cartel in Dagestan* A group of FAS specialists arrived to Dagestan on invitation of Acting Head of Dagestan, Vladimir Vasiliev To pursue the National Competition Development Plan approved by No. 618 Order of the President of Russia on 21.12.2017, FAS jointly with (...)

The EU General Court dismisses appeals against a decision of the Commission brought by producers of underground and submarine high voltage power cables (Power Cables cartel)
Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
Cartel, judicial review, evidence, conterfactuel, parent On 12 July 2018, the General Court (“GC”) delivered fourteen judgments dismissing all of the appeals brought by the companies involved in the Power Cables cartel case. By way of background, in 2014, the European Commission adopted a (...)

The EU General Court hands down a judgment confirming a growing trend towards a broad application of parental liability (Goldman Sachs)
Simmons & Simmons (London)
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Simmons & Simmons (London)
Infringement On 12 July 2018, the General Court (the GC) upheld an infringement decision of the European Commission (the Commission) made on 02 April 2014, in which the Goldman Sachs Group Inc (GS) was found jointly and severally liable with its indirect subsidiary Prysmian for violating (...)

Unilateral Practices

The French Competition Authority renders legally binding a set of remedies of a media company leaving its subscribers free to choose their TV decoder to watch its programmes (Canal Plus)
French Competition Authority (Paris)
Satellite Pay TV* The Autorité de la concurrence makes the commitments of Groupe Canal Plus binding, leaving its subscribers free to choose their TV decoder to watch its programmes. The complaint A satellite decoder manufacturer lodged a complaint with the Autorité de la concurrence relating (...)

The EU Commission fines a multinational technology company for abuse of dominance by imposing illegal restrictions on device manufacturers and mobile network operators (Google Android)
DG COMP (Brussels)
Antitrust: Commission fines Google €4.34 billion for illegal practices regarding Android mobile devices to strengthen dominance of Google’s search engine* The European Commission has fined Google €4.34 billion for breaching EU antitrust rules. Since 2011, Google has imposed illegal restrictions (...)

The EU Commission fines a technology company for abuse of dominance through its smartphone operating system and platform (Google Android)
Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
On 18 July 2018, the European Commission adopted a decision fining Google €4.34 billion for abusing its dominant position by allegedly engaging in various illegal practices regarding the Android mobile platform. According to its press release, the Commission found that Google holds a dominant (...)

The Greek Competition Authority fines a pharmaceutical company for reducing supplies of medicines to wholesalers (GSK)
Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
On 11 July 2018, the Hellenic Competition Commission (“HCC”) adopted a decision (the “Decision”) fining Glaxosmithkline (“GSK”) a total of €4.1 million for abusing its dominant position in relation to two pharmaceutical products: Imigran (an anti-migraine product) and Lamictal (an anticonvulsant). (...)

The UK Competition Appeal Tribunal announces its provisional judgment in an appeal against the CMA’s infringement decision in an excessive price case (Pfizer / Flynn)
White & Case (Brussels)
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White & Case (Brussels)
I. Introduction In the last couple of years, there has been a trend for antitrust watchdogs around the world to investigate excessive pricing, especially in the phar- maceutical sector. Last year, the European Commission opened its first investigation into excessive pricing in the (...)

The President of the Brussels Commercial Court rules that a collecting society abuses its dominant position through its pricing practice (SABAM)
Simmons & Simmons (Brussels)
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Simmons & Simmons (Brussels)
Since 2017 , SABAM increased its tariffs for concerts and music festivals to 17% for average-sized festivals and 37% for large festivals, with the pricing for small festivals remaining the same. As a result, several festivals and the federation of Flemish music festivals sued SABAM. The (...)

Mergers

EU Court of Justice Advocate General Kokott issues an opinion supporting the rights of defence of merging parties (UPS/TNT Express)
Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
On 25 July 2018, Advocate General (“AG”) Kokott issued an Opinion in which she concludes that the General Court (“GC”) was correct to annul the Commission’s 2013 decision to prohibit UPS’s acquisition of its package delivery rival, TNT Express. In the decision, the Commission relied upon a “price (...)

The EU Commission opens an in-depth investigation to assess a merger in the hardware security modules market (Gemalto / Thales)
DG COMP (Brussels)
Mergers: Commission opens in-depth investigation into proposed acquisition of Gemalto by Thales* The European Commission has opened an in-depth investigation to assess the proposed acquisition of Gemalto by Thales under the EU Merger Regulation. The Commission is concerned that the merger (...)

The EU Commission opens an in-depth investigation to assess a merger in the market of the supply of rolled copper products and sanitary copper tubes (MKM /KME)
DG COMP (Brussels)
Mergers: Commission opens in-depth investigation into KME’s proposed acquisition of competing copper products supplier MKM* The European Commission has opened an in-depth investigation to assess the proposed acquisition of MKM by KME, under the EU Merger Regulation. The Commission is concerned (...)

The French Ministry of Economy clears “Phase III” review and imposes commitment to maintain employment (Cofigeo / Agripole)
Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
On 19 July 2018, the French Ministry of Economy (“Ministry”) announced a revised clearance of Cofigeo’s acquisition of the ready meals business of Agripole. This is the first time in the history of French merger control that the Ministry has reviewed a transaction on public interest grounds under (...)

The EU Commission opens an in-depth investigation to assess a proposed merger in the rail sector (Siemens / Alstom)
DG COMP (Brussels)
Mergers: Commission opens in-depth investigation into Siemens proposed acquisition of Alstom* The European Commission has opened an in-depth investigation to assess the proposed acquisition of Alstom by Siemens, under the EU Merger Regulation. The Commission is concerned that the merger may (...)

The Portuguese Competition Authority clears a merger between wind power electricity producers (New Finerge / Empreedimentos Eólicos do Rego / Eolcinf / Parque Eólico do Vale de Abade / Biowatt / Eolflor)
Morais Leitão, Galvão Teles, Soares da Silva & Associados (Porto)
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Morais Leitão, Galvão Teles, Soares da Silva & Associados (Porto)
On May 4th 2018, the Portuguese Competition Authority (PCA) was notified of a merger where New Finerge, S.A. (New Finerge), a company operating in the electricity production market, aimed to acquire exclusive control over five wind farm management companies: Empreedimentos Eólicos do Rego, S.A. (...)

The OECD holds a roundtable on market concentration
OECD - Competition Division
Executive Summary 1. In recent years, there has been growing concern that a trend has emerged in which markets around the world are becoming more concentrated and less competitive. This is sometimes attributed to the increasingly digital and globalised nature of many markets and the firms that (...)

The EU Court of Justice puts an end to the extensive interpretation by some competition authorities of the concept of gun jumping (Ernst & Young)
Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel (Paris)
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Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel (Paris)
In its judgment of 31 May 2018 (Case C-633/16, Ernst & Young), the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that the termination of a cooperation agreement in connection with a M&A transaction prior to its clearing under merger control rules does not constitute a gun jumping practice. (...)

The Portuguese Competition Authority clears a merger between tour operators (Escalatur / Nortravel)
Morais Leitão, Galvão Teles, Soares da Silva & Associados (Porto)
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Morais Leitão, Galvão Teles, Soares da Silva & Associados (Porto)
On March 23rd 2018, the Portuguese Competition Authority (PCA) was notified of a merger where Escalatur – Viagens e Turismo, Unipessoal, Limitada (Escalatur), a company within the Barceló Group, which operates in the tourism sector and is active in various countries, aimed to acquire exclusive (...)

State Aid

The EU Commission approves French aid granted to a tidal energy demonstration plant (Raz Blanchard)
French Competition Authority (Paris)
State aid: Commission approves French support for tidal energy demonstration plant Raz Blanchard* The European Commission has found a French project promoting electricity generation from tidal energy to be in line with EU State aid rules. The measure will contribute further the EU’s energy and (...)

Procedures

The EU Court of Justice clarifies territorial jurisdiction criteria for damages proceedings resulting from competition infringements (FlyLAL)
Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
On 5 July 2018, the Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ) rendered a preliminary ruling on territorial jurisdiction in a long-running dispute brought by Lithuanian Airlines (“flyLAL”) against Air Baltic and Riga Airport. The case was referred to the ECJ by a Lithuanian court in order to (...)

The US Supreme Court says that judges who determine foreign law in federal courts are not strictly bound by foreign government’s statements (Animal Science Products / Hebei Welcome Pharmaceutical)
Bona Law (San Diego)
In an antitrust case deciding a non-antitrust-specific issue, the US Supreme Court held in Animal Science Products, Inc. v. Hebei Welcome Pharmaceutical Co.(the Vitamin C Antitrust Litigation) that to determine foreign law in federal courts, judges are not strictly bound by that foreign (...)

The OECD holds a roundtable on leniency programmes
OECD - Competition Division
1. Introduction 1. Detection and punishment of hard core cartels has been a priority of antitrust enforcement since many years, as they represent one of the most serious violations of competition law, harming consumers and the economy as a whole alike. However, it is difficult to detect such (...)

Regulatory

The UK Payment Systems Regulator announces a market review into the supply of card-acquiring services
Covington & Burling (London)
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Covington & Burling (London)
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Covington & Burling (London)
The UK Payment Systems Regulator (PSR) announced on 24 July 2018 its intention to carry out a market review into the supply of card-acquiring services. The PSR has released its draft Terms of Reference (“ToR”) and is seeking feedback on consultation questions. Card payments are now more common (...)

The OECD holds a roundtable on e-commerce
OECD - Competition Division
1. Introduction 1. E-commerce – broadly, buying and selling online – is a global phenomenon and an important expanding distribution mechanism across the OECD. During the last decade, e-commerce activities have been growing both in the demand and supply side, as seen by the increasing number of (...)

The EU Court of Justice clarifies the scope of the regulatory framework for three-party schemes but individual assessment is needed to determine whether fee caps apply (American Express / HM Treasury)
Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton (Brussels)
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Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton (London)
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Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton (London)
In 2015, the EU Interchange Fee Regulation (the “IFR”) introduced price caps on the interchange fees paid between banks for processing credit and debit card payments. These fee caps attempt to address concerns identified in a series of antitrust investigations into Visa and Mastercard through (...)

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