December 2004

Anticompetitive practices

The Polish competition authority condemns a professional order for minimal price fixing of vet services (Lublin Chamber of Vet Medicine)
French National Research Agency (ANR)
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Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe (Washington)
In 2004, the Lublin branch office of the Office for Competition and Consumer Protection (hereafter “OCCP”) opened an antimonopoly investigation concerning the practices of the Chamber of Vet Medicine of Lublin (hereafter, “the Chamber”). Chambers are professional bodies in which membership is (...)

The Portuguese competition authority adopts a decision against five pharmaceutical companies for collusion in a public tender procedure (Abbott, Bayer, Johnson & Johnson...)
London School of Economics
The Autoridade da Concorrência (hereinafter, “ADC”) informs about the closing of a procedure against Abbott Laboratórios, Bayer Diagnostics Europe, Johnson & Johnson, Menarini Diagnósticos e Roche Farmacêutica Química, five undertakings active in the market for chemically reactive strips used to (...)

The Japan Fair Trade Commission renders its recommendations against participants in bidding in the tire tubes market (Bridgestone Corporation)
Japan Fair Trade Commission (Tokyo)
JFTC issues Recommendation to Companies Bidding for the Tire Tubes Ordered by the Japan Defense Agency* The Fair Trade Commission of Japan (hereinafter “JFTC”) investigated into companies that bid for the tires or the tubes requested by the Japan Defense Agency (hereinafter “JDA”) based on the (...)

The Swedish Supreme Court declares that a concerted practice cannot be subject to nullity under section 7 of the [former] Swedish Competition Act (Boliden Mineral Aktiebolag/AB Fortum Värme samägt med Stockholms stad)
Vinge (Stockholm)
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Svea hovrätt (Swedish courts)
Background In December 1992, Boliden Mineral Aktiebolag (“Boliden”) concluded an agreement with Korsnäs Aktiebolag (“Korsnäs”), in which Boliden undertook to purchase its entire requirement of electricity for a mining facility. A standard form agreement was attached to the aforementioned agreement. (...)

The Spanish Supreme Court rejects the appeal brought by two undertakings active in the distribution of oil products and considers the case-law of the ECJ as being a non-binding “reference” of “great value” (L’Andana)
London School of Economics
On 25 March 1996, the Juzgado de Primera Instancia de Valencia dismissed an action brought by L’Andana, S.A. and Estación de Servicion L’Andana, S.L. (both referred to hereinafter as “L’Andana”) against Repsol Comercial de Productos Petrolíferos, S.A. (“Repsol”). The claimants contended that the series (...)

The Belgium Commercial Court assesses the validity of an alleged anticompetitive car distribution agreement on the basis of Art. 81 EC and the EC block exemption regulation (Daimler-Chrysler)
Sheppard Mullin (Brussels)
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European Chemicals Agency
The Belgian Commercial Court examined whether certain practices by the defendants infringed Article 81 EC, and in particular whether such practices could benefit from the provisions contained in the applicable EC block exemption regulation relating to the application of Article 81(3) EC to (...)

The Polish Competition Court upholds the decision of the Competition Authority declaring a professional order liable for concluding an anticompetitive agreement (Warsaw National Notarial Chamber)
French National Research Agency (ANR)
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Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe (Washington)
Competition and Consumer Protection Court (Sad Ochrony Konkurenji i Konsumentów), December 22nd, 2004, Case concerning the National Notarial Chamber’s in Warsaw anticompetitive agreement (sygn. akt XVII Ama 5O/04), not yet published Sad Ochrony Konkurencji i Konsumentów, wyrok z 22/12/2004 w (...)

The French Competition Authority catches a defensive cartel of maritime transport carrier companies for abusive pricing on the basis of both national and EC competition laws (Channel Islands)
Avocat au barreau de Paris
The 21 December 2004, the French Competition Council issued a decision, under articles L. 420-1 of the Commercial Code and 81 of the EC Treaty, relating to concerted practices on the market of maritime connections to the Channel Islands from France. In the context of the recent entry into (...)

The Latvian Competition Council fined a professional association for coordinating prices and exchanging price related information (Eggs Cartel)
Mittal Investments UK Ltd
On 20 December 2004, the Latvian Competition Council imposed a LVL 45,451 (€ 64,671) fine on 11 egg manufacturers in Latvia for coordinating egg prices and exchanging price related information. The facts In March 2003, a newspaper in Latvia published information regarding the decision of AS (...)

A Dutch Court considers that although the licensor could not compel the licensee to comply with contractual provisions that were void by virtue of Art. 81 EC, the licensor was however not precluded from terminating the agreement according to the terms of the latter (Dekker / Sunfield)
European Commission - DG HR
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Dutch Ministry of Security and Justice
Gerechtshof ’s Gravenhage, 16 December 2004, Cases 03/1647, 04/87, 04/1033 Dekker is active in the market for the improvement of chrysanthemum species and owns the cultivation rights of certain species. Its market share is estimated at 25% of the Dutch market. Sunfield is active in the breeding (...)

The UK Competition Appeal Tribunal holds that a retailer cannot circumvent UK nor EU competition law simply by passing information to competitors through the intermediary of a supplier (Argos - Littlewoods)
Sanoma
Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT), 14 December 2004, Argos Limited & Littlewoods Limited v. Office of Fair Trading, Cases 1014 and 1015/1/1/03, Judgment on liability , [2004] CAT 24 This case concerned an appeal brought before the Competition Appeal Tribunal (“CAT”) by Argos Limited (...)

The Australian Federal Court of Sidney imposes fines of $485,000 for cartel behaviour involving price fixing and boycotts on the scrap metal market (NSW)
Australian Competition and Consumer Commission
$485,000 penalties for NSW scrap metal bid-rigging cartel* Five companies and nine individuals have been penalised a total of $485,000 for cartel behaviour involving price fixing and boycotts in the NSW scrap metal market in orders handed down today by Justice Annabel Bennett of the Federal (...)

L’autorité de concurrence italienne ouvre une enquête à la suite de plaintes dénonçant un partage du marché de la fourniture de carburéacteur en violation de l’Art. 81 CE (Rifornimenti Aeroportuali)
Studio Legale DDPV
L’Autorità Garante della Concorrenza e del Mercato a décidé, le 9 décembre 2004, d’ouvrir une procédure au titre de l’art. 81 du Traité CE, à l’encontre de 6 compagnies pétrolières (Eni S.p.A., Esso Italiana S.r.l., Kuwait Petroleum Italia S.p.A., Shell Italia S.p.A., Tamoil Petroli S.p.A. e Total Italia (...)

Unilateral Practices

The Polish Competition Authority establishes that the telecommunications incumbent abused its dominant position concerning pre-selection services (Telekomunikacja Polska)
French National Research Agency (ANR)
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Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe (Washington)
On the 31st of December 2004, the President of the Office for the Competition and Consumers Protection (hereafter, “OCCP President” or “President of the Office”) issued a decision in which he condemned the practices of Telekomunikacja Polska S.A. (hereafter “TP S.A.”) concerning the alternative (...)

Le Conseil de la concurrence français applique pour la première fois le test des coûts incrémentaux pour écarter un grief de prix prédateurs (Régie départementale des passages d’eau de la Vendée)
Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer (Paris)
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Eversheds Sutherland (Paris)
Dans l’affaire Régie départementale des passages d’eau de la Vendée, le Conseil de la concurrence utilise pour la première fois, dans le cadre de l’analyse d’un grief de prix prédateurs, le test des coûts incrémentaux défini par la Commission en 2001 dans la décision Deutsche Post [Commission Decision (...)

The European Court of First Instance rejects US software company’s request for interim measures (Microsoft)
European Commission - DG COMP
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European Commission - DG COMP
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European Commission - DG COMP
"The Court of First Instance rejects Microsoft’s request for interim measures concerning the Commission’s decision of 24 March 2004"* 1. The decision On March 24 2004, the Commission adopted a decision in Case COMP/C-3/37.792 — Microsoft — by which it concluded that Microsoft had abused its (...)

The Spanish competition authority adopts a prudent approach on alleged price squeeze and discriminatory practices by the telecommunications incumbent on interconnection and termination fees (Uni2-MCI WorldCom / Telefonica Móviles)
London School of Economics
Uni2 and MCI WorldCom España, two telecommunication operators, lodged a complaint on 31 October 2002 before the Servicio de Defensa de la Competencia (hereinafter, “SDC”) against Telefonica Móviles (hereinafter, “TME”). The SDC opened proceedings against TME and sent a draft decision to the Tribunal (...)

The Cypriot Competition Authority rules that the incentive scheme offered to travel agents constitutes an abuse of its dominant position in violation of the national law (Helios Airways / Cyprus Airways)
Agora Trading
In 2004 Helios Airways Ltd (hereinafter “Helios”) submitted a complaint against Cyprus Airways Ltd (hereinafter “CA”) for abusing its dominant position in violation of section 4 and/or 6 of the Cypriot Law 207(?)/89 (“Law to Provide for the Control and Suppression of Restrictive Trade Agreements and (...)

The Cypriot national competition authority imposes a fine for an abuse of dominant position to an association of agricultural producers (Yeomilo Trading/Cyprus Potatoes Trades Association)
McDermott Will & Emery (Brussels)
On 16 December 2004, the Cypriot Commission for the Protection of Competition, following a complaint by Yeomilo Trading Ltd, issued a decision that the Cyprus Potatoes Trades Association had infringed section 6 of the Protection of Competition Law 207/89 through abusing its dominant position in (...)

The Spanish Supreme Court annuled an NCA decision on predatory pricing on substantive grounds (Tabacos Canarias)
Herbert Smith Freehills (Madrid)
The Spanish Supreme Court (Tribunal Supremo) reviewed the judgment of the Audiencia Nacional endorsing the decision issued by the Court for the Defence of Competition (“CDC”) of 16 February 1999, in the “Tabaco Canarias” case. The CDC’s Decision considered Tabacalera, S.A. (“Tabacalera”) liable for (...)

The French Competition Authority orders interim measures regarding alleged abuses of dominant position in the mobile or fixed telephony sector and anticompetitive practices in the French overseas départements (Orange Caraïbe)
French Competition Authority (Paris)
Mobile telephony in Martinique, Guadeloupe and Guyana - The Conseil de la concurrence hands down interim measures against Orange Caraïbe.* On 9th July 2004, the Conseil de la concurrence received a complaint from the mobile telephony operator Bouygues Télécom Caraïbe. The complainant claimed that (...)

The Irish Competition Authority decides that the aggressive pricing strategy of a newspapers publisher in the market for advertising in local newspapers did not breach the Competition Act 2002 for lack of dominant position (Drogheda Independent Cy. -The Leader)
European Commission - DG HR
Decision of The Irish Competition Authority of 7 December 2004 (Case COM/05/03) The Drogheda Independent Company Limited (“the DIC”) publishes several newspaper titles, one of which being The Extra. The Leader, another publisher, lodged a complaint before the Irish Competition Authority and (...)

L’autorité autrichienne de concurrence enquête sur le marché de l’électricité et constate l’augmentation des prix
Reidlinger Schatzmann Rechtsanwälte
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Barnert Egermann Illigasch
L’autorité de concurrence autrichienne (la “Bundeswettbewerbsbehörde”) vient de publier un rapport mettant en évidence, sur la base d’informations apportées par une source non précisée, que tous les prix de l’électricité ont systématiquement augmenté. Cette enquête est du même type que les enquêtes (...)

Mergers

The Dutch Competition Authority partly clears a merger in the sector of homecare (Stichting Icare - Sensire - Thuiszorg Groningen)
Netherlands Authority for Consumers & Markets (The Hague)
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Eversheds Sutherland (Amsterdam)
The operation Icare, Sensire and Thuiszorg Groningen are active in the homecare sector. Icare, Sensire and Thuiszorg Groningen proposed a legal merger (para. 5). The market(s) The NMa assessed the effects of the merger in relation to the market of (i) homecare and (ii) other services within (...)

The Bulgarian Commission for the Protection of Competition clears a merger in the payphones market subject to divestiture commitments (Bulgarian Telecommunications Company/Radio Telecommunications Company/Bulfon)
Boyanov & Co.
The operation The notified operation consists of the acquisition of a 49% controlling stake by Bulgarian Telecommunications Company AD, in Radio Telecommunications Company OOD, with an option to acquire additional 12% from another shareholder, as well as the acquisition of 66% of the capital (...)

The French Minister of Economic Affairs clears a merger in the market for the cheese conditional to behavioural remedies (Lactalis)
Brown Brothers Harriman (BBH) (Luxembourg)
The operation By letter dated 5 November 2004, the French Minister of Economic Affairs cleared a merger after a Phase I procedure where the Group Lactalis acquired cheese producers or parts of their businesses controlled by the Family Pochat Cotilloux (namely the SCI de la Pointe Percée, the (...)

The UK Office of Fair Trading clears a merger in the radio sector in Phase I without reference to the Competition Commission while accepting local asset divestment (Capital Radio/GWR Group)
Asociación Española de Compañías de Investigación, Exploración, Producción de Hidrocarburos y Almacenamiento Subterráneo (Aciep)
The operation Capital Radio and GWR Group are commercial radio groups operating in the UK. Capital proposed acquiring the whole of GWR’s issued share capital (para. 1, 2 and 4). The market(s) The OFT assessed the effects of the merger in relation to the provision of (i) radio advertising both (...)

The Spanish Competition Authority clears with remedies a merger in the fuel sector but the Council of Ministries increased the potential duration of one of the remedies (DISA / Shell)
PwC (Madrid)
The operation The operation comprised the acquisition of Shell Atlántica and Shell Peninsular by DISA. DISA is a group of companies mainly active in the Canary Islands that operates in the following fields: (i) wholesale and retail distribution of refined oil products; (ii) distribution and (...)

The European Commission clears an acquisition in the chemical products industry (UCB / Cytec)
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European Commission - DG COMP
"Merger control: Main developments between 1 September and 31 December 2004"* The Commission cleared the proposed acquisition of UCB’s Surface Specialties (Surface Specialties) business by Cytec Industries Inc. (Cytec) of the US. The Commission’s review highlighted serious concerns in two amino (...)

The Turkish Competition Authority clears a merger in the maritime transportation sector subject to limitation of the scope of the joint venture to the relevant market (Eregli-Denizcilik)
Esin
The operation The Parties are real persons who are active in different areas of sea transportation through their direct or indirect shareholdings in various companies. However none of the Parties have any direct or indirect shareholding in any company which is active in the relevant product (...)

The European Commission prohibits a merger between gas and electricity national incumbents (EDP/ENI/GDP)
Service européen pour l’action extérieure (EEAS)
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European Commission - Legal Service
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European Commission - DG COMP
"EDP/ENI/GDP: the Commission prohibits a merger between gas and electricity national incumbents"* On 9 December 2004, the European Commission decided to block the proposed acquisition of Gás de Portugal (GDP), the incumbent gas company in Portugal, by both Energias de Portugal (EDP), the (...)

The Swedish Competition Authority clears a merger in the energy sector, subject to a remedy intended to facilitate supplier switching by the target’s customers (DONG Naturgas/Nova Supply)
Cederquist
The operation DONG Naturgas A/S (DONG) is wholly-owned by DONG A/S, which was itself wholly-owned by the Danish State at the time of the transaction. DONG is a producer of natural gas from North Sea gas fields and is a supplier of natural gas to Denmark, Germany, Holland and Sweden. (para.3 (...)

State Aid

The European Commission decides to launch a formal investigation on possible State aid in favour of a steel producer in the Czech Republic (Trinecké Zelezárny)
European Commission - DG COMP
"Aid in favour of Trinecké Zelezárny, a.s. a steel producer in the Czech Republic"* On 14 December 2004 the Commission decided to launch a formal investigation on possible State aid in favour of Trinecké Zelezárny, a.s. (TZ), a steel producer in the Czech Republic. The Commission has reasons to (...)

The French Cour de Cassation refers questions to ECJ relating to social security exemptions for French laboratories (Laboratoires Boiron)
Sheppard Mullin (Brussels)
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Maersk (Copenhagen)
Brief description of the facts and legal issues A laboratory filed an action for the refund of a Sociàl Security contribution arguing that this contribution was unlawful State aid, because certain laboratories were exempt. Referring to the Banks case (Joined Cases C-390/98, Banks & Co v (...)

The French Civil Supreme Court requested a preliminary ruling from the ECJ with regards to the implementation of the Ferring case law : Advocate General Tizzano supports the reimbursement of the tax on direct sales paid by French pharmaceutical laboratories (Boiron/ACOSS)
Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel (Paris)
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Eversheds Sutherland (Paris)
Background Law n° 97-1164, of 19 December 1997, on social security funding for 1998 set up a special 2.5 % tax payable only by pharmaceutical laboratories on sales of medicines made directly to pharmacies. Proceeds from the tax were aimed at financing the social security system. However, (...)

Procedures

The Czech Supreme Administrative Court changes the interpretation of the limitation period for the imposition of penalties (Eurotel/RadioMobil/Èeský Mobil)
Government of the Czech Republic
On 21 December 2004 the Supreme Administrative Court of the Czech Republic issued a decision whereby it affirmed the earlier decision of the Office for the Protection of Competition, in which the Office had found that Eurotel, a Czech mobile operator, had abused its dominant position on the (...)

The Austrian Supreme Court, acting as appellate Cartel Court, refuses to state whether or not an agreement falls within the scope of Art 81 EC (Oberste Gerichtshof)
Reidlinger Schatzmann Rechtsanwälte
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Bpv Hügel (Vienna)
This case relates to the effects of the modernization of EC competition law on Austrian law. Sec. 8a of the Austrian Cartel Act empowers the Cartel Court upon formal request by a party to decide whether or not a specific set of facts falls within the scope of the Act. In the case at issue, the (...)

The UK High Court emphasises the need for claimants to ensure that they have robust evidence of alleged breach in order to avoid being thrown out on summary judgment (Wireless / RAJAR)
White & Case (London)
Mr. Justice Lloyd’s recent judgment in the Wireless / RAJAR case (handed down on 16 December 2004), demonstrates certain of the procedural and evidential difficulties faced by private litigants seeking damages for alleged breaches of competition law before the English Courts. The Claimant, (...)

The French Supreme Court decides that the principle of procedural autonomy requires that the national competition authority that applies Art. 81-82 EC implement the rules of internal procedure and not Community procedure
Gide Loyrette Nouel (Brussels)
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DLA Piper (Paris)
Court of Cassation (Commercial Division), 14 December 2004, Pourvoi n° 02-17.012, Pharma Lab SA v. Glaxosmithkline GSK, and others ; Bull. 2004, IV, n° 225, p. 254 Doc. sur Legifrance Doc. PDF On 14 December 2004, the Court of Cassation quashed a judgement of the Paris Court of Appeal for (...)

An Italian Court of Appeal holds a professional association liable for the damage suffered following a boycotting campaign (INAZ Pagh/ANCL)
Shearman & Sterling (Rome)
Inaz Paghe, a rather large supplier of software packages, offers on the market a new package called ‘full service’, to be used for the management of employees’ payrolls. The National Association of Employment Consultants, fearing that INAZ software may be able to perform some of the activities (...)

"Modernisation" du cadre législatif espagnol (Règlement nº 1/2003 CE)
Sheppard Mullin (Brussels)
L’adoption du Règlement (CE) n° 1/2003, du Conseil, du 16 décembre 2002, relatif à la mise en oeuvre des règles de concurrence prévues aux articles 81 et 82 du traité (JOCE L 1, du 4 janvier 2003, pp. 1-25) a rendu nécessaires plusieurs modifications du cadre législatif espagnol du droit de la (...)

The Swedish and Danish Competition Authorities conduct in the energy sector one of the first joint dawn raids made possible by Art. 22.1 of EC Reg. N° 1/2003 (DONG Naturgas - Nova Supply)
Cederquist
Swedish Competition Authority, 10 December 2004, Decision n° DNR 838/2004 In relation to an investigation of a concentration between the Danish company DONG Naturgas A/S (“Dong”) and Nova Supply AB, the Swedish Competition Authority (the “SCA”) came across information that indicated that the (...)

Le Ministère Grec du développement publie le projet d’harmonisation et de modernisation du droit de la concurrence
European Commission - DG CNECT
This article concerns the 2004 draft Greek reform. In order to read about the law passed on 2 August 2005, see: Ioannis Lianos, The Greek Parliament votes the reform of the competition Act (Law, 2 August 2005), 2 August 2005, e-Competitions, n°1392, www.concurrences.com Assimakis Komninos, (...)

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