Bulletin

Anticompetitive practices

The EU Court of Justice holds that suppliers of luxury goods may under certain conditions restrict authorised retailers in a selective distribution system not to sell their goods via third-party online platforms to preserve their products’ ‘luxury image’ (Coty Germany)
Hogan Lovells (Munich)
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European University Viadrina Frankfurt (Oder)
I. Introduction On 6 December 2017, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) handed down its long-awaited judgment on the permissibility of restrictions by suppliers of luxury goods to sell their products via third-party online platforms under Article 101 (1) TFEU. The question has been subject to (...)

The EU Court of Justice deals a blow to the Commission’s power to close antitrust investigations with commitment decisions (Gasorba / Repsol)
Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom (Brussels)
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Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom (Brussels)
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Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom (Brussels)
On November 23, 2017, the Court of Justice of the European Union (Court of Justice) dealt a blow to the European Commission’s (Commission) power to close antitrust investigations with commitment decisions, with its ruling in Case C-547/16 Gasorba et al. v. Repsol. The Court of Justice ruled that (...)

The EU Court of Justice issues a ruling assimilating farmer cooperatives to undertakings under EU competition law (APVE)
Antwerp University (UFSIA)
The ECJ Preliminary Ruling in French Endives: Two (Too?) Simple Rules to Attune Article 101 TFEU to the Common Agricultural Policy* The competition and agricultural rules in the EU treaties have lived separate lives for many decades. While an agricultural exemption from the competition rules (...)

The German Competition Authority launches a sector inquiry into online price comparison websites
German Competition Authority (Bonn)
Bundeskartellamt launches sector inquiry into comparison websites* The Bundeskartellamt has launched a sector inquiry into "online price comparison websites". Andreas Mundt, President of the Bundeskartellamt: "Every day millions of consumers gather information by using price comparison (...)

The EU General Court endorses selective distribution of spare parts for luxury watches (CEAHR)
Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
On 23 October 2017, the General Court of the European Union (the “Court”) dismissed an action brought by Confédération européenne des associations d’horlogers-réparateurs (“CEAHR”) against the European Commission (the “Commission”) for the annulment of the Commission’s decision to reject a complaint (...)

The EU General Court holds that watch manufacturers are allowed to restrict the supply of watch parts only to approved repairers (CEAHR)
Gomez Acebo & Pombo (Brussels)
In July 2004, the European Confederation of Watch and Clock Repairers’ Association (“CEAHR”) led a complaint with the Commission arguing that there was (i) an agreement or a concerted practice between a number of luxury watch manufacturers and (ii) an abuse of dominant positionresulting from (...)

The French Competition Authority fines three undertakings and a trade association € 302 in a cartel case in the PVC and linoleum floor sector (Forbo / Gerflor / Tarkett / SFEC)
Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
On 18 October 2017, the French Competition Authority (“FCA”) issued a decision imposing nes totalling € 302 million on three ooring companies (Forbo, Ger or and Tarkett) and a trade association (Syndicat Français des Enducteurs Calandreurs: the “SFEC”) for engaging in cartel activities between 1990 (...)

The French Competition Authority fines three leading manufacturers of PVC and linoleum floor covering for cartel (Tarkett)
French Competition Authority (Paris)
The Autorité has imposed sanctions totalling €302 million on the three leading manufacturers of PVC and linoleum floor covering, as a penalty for price fixing among other pratices.* Background Acting on information submitted by the Directorate General for Competition Policy, Consumer Affairs (...)

The EU Commission fines several truck manufacturers for cartel (Scania)
European Commission - DG COMP
Antitrust: Commission fines Scania €880 million for participating in trucks cartel* The European Commission has found that Scania broke EU antitrust rules. It colluded for 14 years with five other truck manufacturers on truck pricing and on passing on the costs of new technologies to meet (...)

Unilateral Practices

The EU General Court issues a ruling on mandatory access and interoperability in the software industry (Contact Software)
Jones Day (Brussels)
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Jones Day (Amsterdam)
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Jones Day (Brussels)
The European General Court’s ("GC") decision relates to a complaint filed with the European Commission ("EC") by Contact Software, a German software supplier of Product Data Management ("PDM"). Contact Software alleged an abuse of dominance by Dassault Systèmes and Parametric Technology Corp., as (...)

The EU Commission fines a Lithuanian Railways company for abuse of dominance on rail freight market (Lietuvos geležinkeliai)
European Commission - DG COMP
Antitrust: Commission fines Lithuanian Railways €28 million for hindering competition on rail freight market* The European Commission has fined Lithuanian Railways (Lietuvos geležinkeliai) an amount of €27 873 000 for hindering competition on the rail freight market, in breach of EU antitrust (...)

The Cyprus Competition Authority sends a statement of objections to a chemical and consumer goods company suspected to have abused of its dominance (Henkel)
Commission for the Protection of Competition of the Republic of Cyprus
The Commission for the Protection of Competition announces that it has notified Statements of Objections to Henkel AG & Co KGaA and its subsidiary GPM Henkel Ltd jointly and severally regarding a prima facie infringement of Section 6(1)(b) of the Protection of Competition Laws of 2008 and (...)

EU Court of Justice Advocate General Saugmandsgaard Øe indicates that providing misleading information aimed at undermining the reputation of one drug to the benefit of another drug might constitute a restriction by object (Hoffmann-La Roche)
Liège University - IEJE
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Liège University - IEJE
On 21 September 2017 Advocate General Saugmandsgaard Øe (‘AG’) issued his opinion in F. Hoffmann-La Roche vs Autorità Garante della Concurrenza e del Mercato (AGCM). In his opinion the AG provides guidance to the Court of Justice of the European Union (‘CJEU’) on the various questions raised by the (...)

Mergers

The Indian Government exempts Oil & Gas state owned enterprises from merger control
Chandhiok & Associates (New Delhi)
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Chandhiok & Associates (New Delhi)
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Chandhiok & Associates (New Delhi)
On 22 November 2017, the Government of India issued a notification exempting Central Public Sector Enterprises (CPSEs) operating in the Oil and Gas Sectors (O&G Exemption), from a mandatory pre-merger approval requirement under the Competition Act, 2002 (Competition Act) for a period of (...)

The US FTC files a complaint challenging a proposed acquisition (Red Venture / Bankrate)
Shearman & Sterling (Washington)
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Shearman & Sterling (Washington)
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Shearman & Sterling (Washington)
On November 3, 2017, the Federal Trade Commission filed a complaint challenging Red Ventures’ proposed acquisition of Bankrate. The FTC alleged that the deal likely would have lessened competition in the market for thirdparty paid referral services for senior living facilities—even though Red (...)

The EU General Court annuls a Commission’s conditional merger clearance in the audiovisual sector (Liberty Global / Ziggo)
Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
On 26 October 2017, the General Court annulled the European Commission’s conditional merger clearance decision in Liberty Global/Ziggo. The Commission had approved the acquisition of Ziggo by Dutch rival cable TV operator Liberty Global in 2014, subject to extensive conditions including the (...)

The EU General Court dismisses an appeal against a Commission decision for implementing acquisition of sole control without first obtaining approval under the EU Merger Regulation (Marine Harvest / Morpol)
Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
On 26 October 2017, the General Court dismissed an appeal by Marine Harvest against a € 20 million fine imposed on it by the Commission for implementing its acquisition of sole control over Morpol without rst obtaining approval under the EU Merger Regulation (see VBB on Competition Law, Volume (...)

The EU General Court orders fresh review of a merger (Liberty Global/Ziggo)
Dechert (Brussels)
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Dechert (Brussels)
The EU lower court has overturned a 2014 merger clearance by the European Commission (EC) following an appeal by a third party. Overturning the clearance does not mean that the deal is now prohibited. Instead, the case goes back to the EC, and the parties have to re-notify. At best this is (...)

The EU General Court sets aside the Commission’s approval decision of a merger in the market for television and telecommunication services (KPN - Liberty Global / Ziggo)
Desogus Law Office (Cagliari)
By the judgment recently rendered in the KPN/Commission case , the General Court of the EU (GC) has quashed the decision previously made by the European Commission by which it gave a conditional go-ahead to the Ziggo acquisition by Liberty Global. The appeal was filed by a competitor of the (...)

The French Competition Authority clears a merger in the cured meat sector (Cooperl Arc Atlantique / Financière Turenne Lafayette)
Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
On 23 October 2017, the French Competition Authority (“FCA”) cleared Cooperl Arc Atlantique’s acquisition of control of the cured meat division of Financière Turenne Lafayette. The FCA granted a derogation on 24 May 2017 to allow the buyer to acquire control of the target company prior to FCA (...)

The French Competition Authority clears a merger on the cured meat products market (Financière Turenne Lafayette/ Coorperl Arc Atlantique)
French Competition Authority (Paris)
The Autorité de la concurrence clears the acquisition of full control of the cured meats’ division of Financière Turenne Lafayette (Paul Prédault, Madrange…) by Coorperl Arc Atlantique (Brocéliande)* Parties to the operation On 4 May 2017, Cooperl Arc Atlantique (VériTable, L’atout prix or (...)

The Hellenic Competition Authority clears an acquisition of joint control over a dairy milk company subject to commitments (Delta Foods / Mevgal)
Prentoulis Gerakini Law Partnership (Athens)
Under its decision No. 650/2017 the Hellenic Competition Commission (HCC) approved the acquisition of joint control of Mevgal SA by Delta Food SA and members of the Hatzakou family. Delta Food S.A., member of the Vivartia Group of companies, produces and distributes dairy products such as, (...)

The UK Government proposes greater intervention in national security and infrastructure mergers
Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton (London)
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Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton (London)
On October 17, 2017, the UK Government published legislative proposals that would give it greater powers to intervene in mergers that raise national security considerations or involve national infrastructure. In the short-term, any transaction involving a party active in the manufacture or (...)

The EU Commission clears a merger subject to remedies on the market of automotive equipment (FTE / Valeo)
European Commission - DG COMP
Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of FTE by Valeo, subject to conditions* The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition of FTE by Valeo, both automotive equipment suppliers. The decision is conditional on the divestment of Valeo’s passive (...)

The EU Commission clears a merger, subject to remedies, in the vending services market (Pelican Rouge / Selecta)
European Commission - DG COMP
Mergers: Commission approves acquisition of Pelican Rouge by Selecta, subject to conditions* The European Commission has cleared under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition of vending services provider Pelican Rouge of the Netherlands by Selecta of Switzerland. The clearance is (...)

The Polish Competition Authority imposes a fine of more than EUR 78,000 on a consumer eggs producer for gun-jumping (Fermy Drobiu Woźniak)
WKB Wierciński Kwieciński Baehr (Warsaw)
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WKB Wierciński Kwieciński Baehr (Warsaw)
In its decision of 19 September 2017, the Polish Competition Authority (Prezes Urzędu Ochrony Konkurencji i Konsumentów, hereinafter referred to as the “PCA”) fined Fermy Drobiu “Woźniak” sp. z o.o. (hereinafter referred to as the “FDW”) the amount of PLN 339,000.00 (approx. EUR 78,000.00) for failure (...)

State Aid

The EU Commission opens an in-depth investigation into statutory rules that exempt certain financing income earned by foreign subsidiaries (United Kingdom)
Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom (Brussels)
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Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom (London)
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Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom (Brussels)
On 26 October 2017, the European Commission (the Commission) opened an in-depth investigation into UK statutory rules that exempt certain financing income earned by foreign subsidiaries of UK corporate taxpayers from UK tax. The Commission’s investigation will focus on whether the UK Controlled (...)

The EU Commission pursues Ireland before the Court of justice for failure to recover illegal tax benefits from an American multinational technology company (Apple)
European Commission - DG COMP
State aid: Commission refers Ireland to Court for failure to recover illegal tax benefits from Apple worth up to €13 billion* The European Commission has decided to refer Ireland to the European Court of Justice for failing to recover from Apple illegal State aid worth up to €13 billion, as (...)

The EU Commission concludes that Luxembourg has granted undue tax benefits to an electronic commerce company (Amazon)
European Commission - DG COMP
State aid: Commission finds Luxembourg gave illegal tax benefits to Amazon worth around €250 million* The European Commission has concluded that Luxembourg granted undue tax benefits to Amazon of around €250 million. This is illegal under EU State aid rules because it allowed Amazon to pay (...)

The EU Commission confirms that Ireland granted State Aid to a company (Apple)
Simmons & Simmons (Luxembourg)
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Simmons & Simmons (Luxembourg)
On 30 August 2016, the EU commission confirmed that in their view, Ireland granted illegal State Aid to Apple. Such State Aid is allegedly granted in the form of a selective tax treatment. The decision is the latest in the EU Commission’s moves to use State Aid principles in a direct tax (...)

Procedures

The EU Commission publishes a Fact Sheet on Intellectual Property Rights Enforcement and a Communication setting out the EU’s approach to Standard Essential Patents
Simmons & Simmons (London)
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Simmons & Simmons (London)
The European Commission today published a Fact Sheet on Intellectual Property Rights Enforcement and a Communication setting out the EU’s approach to Standard Essential Patents (SEPs). In recognition of what it perceives as the strategic importance of SEPs and Europe’s need to grasp the enormous (...)

The EU Court of Justice rules the prohibition on selling at a loss laid down by Spanish legislation relating to retail commerce contrary to EU law (Europamur Alimentación)
Broseta (Madrid)
In the context of a preliminary ruling, the European Court of Justice (“ECJ”) concluded, through judgement of 19 October 2017 (Case C-295/16, Europamur Alimentación, S.A.), that the prohibition on selling at a loss (or sale at a loss) stated in Article 14 of Law 7/1996, regulating retail commerce (...)

The UK High Court renders a judgment significantly restricting the temporal scope of the claims in four air cargo cartel damages actions (Emerald Supplies)
Shearman & Sterling (Brussels)
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Shearman & Sterling (Brussels)
On 4 October 2017, the High Court gave a judgment on a preliminary issue significantly restricting the temporal scope of the claimants’ claims in four air cargo cartel damages actions. This judgment is the last in a series of adverse judgments for the claimants in these proceedings. Background (...)

Regulatory

The German Competition Authority publishes a paper on ’Big Data and Competition’ as Big Data and digital markets remain in the focus of EU competition authorities
Hogan Lovells (Munich)
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Hogan Lovells (Munich)
I. Introduction On 6 October, the German Federal Cartel Office (’FCO’) launched its new series of papers on ’Competition and Consumer Protection in the Digital Economy’. The first paper deals with ’Big Data and Competition’. The same day, a ’real-life example’ of competition enforcement in Big Data (...)

Public sector

The Advocate General Campos-Bordona proposes the EU Court of Justice to declare fines for clarification or supplementation of procurement documents as contrary to EU law only if disproportionate (Ma.t.i. Sud)
University of Bristol - Law School
AG suggests CJUE should declare fines for clarification or supplementation of procurement documents as contrary to EU law only if disproportionate (C-523/16)* In his Opinion of 15 November 2017 in case MA.T.I. SUD, C-523/16, EU:C:2017:868, Advocate General Campos Sánchez-Bordona has considered (...)

The EU General Court considers that excessive qualitative criteria in public procurement artificially narrow down competition (Jema Energy)
University of Bristol - Law School
Mixed views on General Court decision concerning claim of ’artificial narrowing of competition’ through too strict procurement selection requirements (T-668/15)* In its Judgment of 10 November 2017 in Jema Energy v Entreprise, T-668/15, EU:T:2017:796 (only available in Spanish and French), the (...)

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