May 2005

Anticompetitive practices

A US District Court holds that a revenue sharing agreement between three large supermarket chains was not subject to the nonstatutory labor exemption, thus not immune from scrutiny as a potential antitrust violation (Safeway)
Sheppard Mullin (Los Angeles)
Supermarket Revenue Sharing Agreement Is Not Immune From Antitrust Scrutiny* On May 25, 2005, United States District Judge, Central District of California, denied the defendant supermarkets’ motion for summary judgment, and held that a revenue sharing agreement between three large supermarket (...)

The Danish NCA finds that a leading car manufacturer had abused its dominant position under both national competition provisions and Art. 82 EC but without imposing fines (Toyota)
Université Catholique de Louvain
The Danish Competition Council adopted the 25 May 2005 a Decision finding that Toyota Denmark A/S had abused its dominant position under section 11 (1) of the Danish Competition Act and Article 82 of the EC treaty, on the market for authorised servicing of Toyota cars. Toyota Denmark A/S is in (...)

The UK Competition Appeal Tribunal confirms that indirect contact between competing retailers via a mutual supplier can amount to concerted practices and that recommended retail prices may lead to price fixing (Replica Football Kit)
British Institute of International and Comparative Law
This case comment falls in two parts : Part I comments upon the judgment on liability, and Part II comments upon the judgment on penalty. PART I: JUDGMENT ON LIABILITY THE PARTIES Appellants: JJB Sports PLC (“JJB”) and Allsports Limited (“Allsports”). Respondent: The Office of Fair Trading (...)

The French Competition Authority sanctions 21 building and civil engineering companies for having entered into an anticompetitive agreement during the awarding of contracts to construct civil engineering structures on the A84 motorway (Estuaries Road)
French Competition Authority (Paris)
Press Release published on the official website of the French Competition Authority. The A84 motorway, known as the "Estuaries Road": The Conseil de la concurrence finds 21 building and civil engineering companies guilty of entering into an anticompetitive agreement and imposes fines totalling (...)

The Irish Competition Authority reaches a settlement on alcohol price-fixing practices with a professional association in High Court proceedings (Vintners Federation of Ireland)
London School of Economics
On May 11, 2005 the National Competition Authority (hereinafter NCA) settled a long-standing case against the Vintners Federation of Ireland (henceforth VFI) ,which has been pending before the High Court since it’s initiation in 1998, concerning alleged alcohol price-fixing by the trade (...)

Unilateral Practices

The French Competition Authority accepts commitments to address competition concerns in the market for postage stamp valuation catalogues (Yvert & Tellier)
French Competition Authority (Paris)
Press Release published on the official website of the French Competition Authority. Conseil de la concurrence accepts commitments offered by Yvert &Tellier and closes the litigation proceedings brought by Dallay. Operators who wish to create correspondence tables between their own (...)

The Cypriot Competition Authority imposes a fine for price squeezing and excessive pricing on the Internet services market (CYTA)
International Transport Forum
On 30 May 2005 the Cypriot Commission for the Protection of Competition (hereinafter C.P.C.) ended its own initiative investigation of the Cyprus Telecommunications Authority (hereinafter CYTA) by unanimously finding CYTA liable for abuse of its dominant position in the market for the provision (...)

The Finnish Competition Authority finds that the Finnish Telephone Number Service has abused its dominant position through hindering the emergence of new technology (SNOY)
McDermott Will & Emery (Brussels)
The Finnish Competition Authority held on the 17 May 2005 that the Finnish Telephone Number Service (SNOY) had abused its dominant position. The abuse entailed a practice whereby SNOY forced its customer companies offering telephone directory services not to offer their services to end (...)

Mergers

A Dutch Court annuls a Dutch Competition Authority’s decision that conditionally cleared a merger between electricity companies for not having sufficiently demonstrated that the merger would lead to the creation or strengthening of a dominant position (Nuon/Reliant)
RBB Economics (Brussels)
On 31 May 2005, the Court of Rotterdam in the Netherlands annulled a decision by the Nederlandse Mededingingsautoriteit (NMa), the Dutch competition authority, concerning the proposed merger between electricity companies Nuon and Reliant . After a detailed inquiry, the NMa had cleared the (...)

The European Commission conditionally clears a merger leading to the creation of the largest European producer of generic medicines (Hexal/Eon Labs)
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European Commission - DG COMP
"Mergers — Main developments between 1 May and 31 August 2005"* The Commission authorised the acquisition of Hexal, a German producer of generic medicines, and its US sister company Eon Labs by Novartis, in a deal which creates the largest European producer of generic medicines. The clearance (...)

The Austrian Cartel Court cleared a merger in the media publishing market subject to undertakings aimed at ensuring media pluralism (Styria Medien/ET Multimedia)
NERA (Berlin)
The operation Styria Medien AG intended to increase its share in ET Media (ETM) from 16.8 % to more than 50 %. The Styria Group publishes amongst others the daily newspapers "Die Presse" and "Kleine Zeitung". ETM predominately publishes business and woman magazines such as "New Business", (...)

The Norwegian Ministry of Government Administration and Reform cleared subject to a behavioural remedy a merger previously prohibited by the NCA (Swarco/Peek)
Ernst & Young
The operation On 28 August 2004, the Norwegian Competition Authority (NCA) was notified of the acquisition of Peek Trafikk AS by Swarco Norge AS. Swarco distributes and operates traffic-actuated control systems. Peek distributes and operates traffic-actuated control systems and parking (...)

The European Commission conditionally clears a merger in the financial data industry (Telerate/Reuters)
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European Commission - DG COMP
"Mergers — Main developments between 1 May and 31 August 2005"* The European Commission cleared the acquisition of the financial data provider Moneyline Telerate Holding (‘Telerate’) by its major global competitor, Reuters Limited (‘Reuters’). The Commission’s review of the operation highlighted (...)

The Bulgarian Commission for Protection of Competition dismisses minority shareholder protection rights as a form of acquisition of control (Beer Production)
Kinstellar (Sofia)
The Bulgarian Commission for Protection of Competition (the «CPC«) found that minority shareholder protection rights conferred no control in the competition law meaning of the notion because they did not relate to the exercise of decisive influence but merely to preservation of the shareholder’s (...)

The Czech Competition Office authorises as a rescue operation a merger in the insurance market subject to a capital increase (CPP/Kooperativa)
Gide Loyrette Nouel (Prague)
In this contribution we provide a summary of the Office’s first instance decision authorising an acquisition of an insurance company, Èeská podnikatelská pojiš ovna, a.s. (“CPP”), by another one, Kooperativa, pojiš ovna, a.s.(“Kooperativa”). The Office received a request by Kooperativa to approve its (...)

The European Commission approves the creation of a rotogravure printing joint venture by two German media companies (Bertelsmann/Axel Springer)
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European Commission - DG COMP
"Mergers — Main developments between 1 May and 31 August 2005"* The creation of a rotogravure printing joint venture by German media companies Bertelsmann AG and Axel Springer AGwas approved by the European Commission. The joint venture will combine five printing facilities in Germany and one (...)

State Aid

The Danish Competition Authority dismisses a claim based on State aid rules on the grounds that all transactions between a regional public TV channel and its subsidiary had been carried out on market terms (Rødovre Kommune justerer hjemmehjælpsydelser)
Lexxion Publisher
Factual Background The company BORNnet Marketing, a producer of advertising spots, complained to the Danish Competition Authority ("DCA") that a regional television channel, TV2 Bornholm, had subsidized the company, Mediegruppen Bornholm, by allowing the latter to use its assets and (...)

The Danish Competition Authority rejects a complaint concerning an alleged violation of State aid rules on the grounds that the State aid measure is likely to affect trade between Member States and consequently lacks competence under Section 11a of the Danish Competition Act (Teknologisk Institut)
Lexxion Publisher
Factual Background The Centre of Tribology, which is part of the Technological Institute, is active in the field of tribology (comprising advanced surface treatment of tools and machine parts). It receives public funding from both the European Union and the Danish State. The Danish (...)

The European Commission approves German aid scheme for tenants of technology centres and incubators
Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators (ACER) (Slovenia)
"Commission approves German aid scheme for tenants of technology centres and incubators"* On 3 May 2005, the Commission authorised, on the basis of Article 87(3)(c) EC, a German aid scheme providing public support for the creation or development of incubators and technology centres, with newly (...)

A French Court rules that a contract passed between a regional airport and a low cost airline company to develop a new route is invalid for lack of notification to the EC Commission in breach of Art. 88.3 EC (Air Méditerranée/Ryanair)
Schmitt Avocats
By a judgement of 3 May 2005, the Administrative Court of Pau (“Tribunal administratif de Pau”) confirmed that regional airports managers face serious legal difficulties when they plan to create new international routes with the help of low cost airline companies by according them substantial (...)

Procedures

The European Court of Justice rules that the Greek Competition Authority is not a “court or tribunal” in the meaning of Art. 234 EC and therefore can not apply for an ECJ preliminary ruling (Syfait / GlaxoSmithKline)
White & Case (Brussels)
On 31 May 2005 the European Court of Justice (ECJ) delivered its judgment in Case C-53/03, Syfait and others v. GlaxoSmithKline AEVE and GlaxoSmithKline plc (“Syfait”), which raises the question of whether a dominant pharmaceutical undertaking is under a duty to supply unlimited quantities of (...)

The UK Office of Fair Trading accepts for the first time binding commitments following a Competition Act 1998 investigation (TV Eye)
UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) (London)
1. Introduction In this Decision, the Office of Fair Trading ("OFT") accepted for the first time binding commitments following a Competition Act 1998 ("1998 Act") investigation. The investigation related to possible infringements of Chapter I and Chapter II of the 1998 Act. The commitments (...)

The Belgian Council of Ministers approves a new bill on the protection of competition implementing EC Regulation n° 1/2003
BDGS Associés (Paris)
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Gide Loyrette Nouel
This article concerns the draft law published in May 2005. The law entered into force on 1 October 2006 Up until now, the legal framework of Belgian Competition was based on the 1991 law on the protection of competition. This framework, however, needed to be overhauled. First, it needed to (...)

A US District Court holds that the rule granting exclusive rights to produce “A” horse shows within a 250 mile radius was exempt from antitrust liability pursuant to the doctrine of implied antitrust immunity under the Amateur Sports Act (JES Properties / USA Equestrian)
Sheppard Mullin (Los Angeles)
Horse Show Governing Body Mileage Rule Against Competing Horse Shows Is Subject to Summary Judgment On Ground Of Implied Antitrust Immunity* Plaintiffs, promoters of “A” Hunter-Jumper Competitions on the Florida Winter Horse Show circuit, filed an action against USA Equestrian, Inc., (“USAE”), (...)

Regulatory

The Hungarian Competition Authority issues a recommendation in order to liberalize the notaries’ activities
Smartflats
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Liège University - IEJE
In Hungary, the activity of notaries is the most strictly regulated branch of liberal professions. On 27 may 2005, the Gazdasági Versenyhivatal (“GVH” - the Hungarian Competition Authority) submitted a detailed recommendation during the drafting of the new regulation pertaining to notarial (...)

The US Supreme Court invalidates state laws in Michigan and New York, barring out of state wineries from selling directly to instate consumers, while allowing such sales by instate wineries (Granholm / Heald)
Sheppard Mullin (Los Angeles)
Supreme Court Rules Against State Law Bans On Interstate Direct Shipment Of Wine* On May 16, 2005, the United States Supreme Court struck down state laws in Michigan and New York, barring out of state wineries from selling directly to instate consumers, while allowing such sales by instate (...)

The French Competition Authority issues an opinion on markets for termination of geographic calls on alternative landline networks (ARCEP)
French Competition Authority (Paris)
Press Release published on the official website of the French Competition Authority. Markets for geographic call termination on alternative landline networks: The Conseil de la concurrence favours ex ante intervention by the ART to guarantee that the geographic calls termination tariffs (...)

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