MFC clause

Anticompetitive practices

The UK Competition Authority publishes a full infringement decision on the imposition of wide MFN clauses by a price comparison website (ComparetheMarket)
Bird & Bird (London)
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Bird & Bird (London)
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Bird & Bird (London)
Having fined Compare The Market (‘CTM’) £17.9 million for imposing wide ‘most favoured nation’ (‘MFN’) clauses in its agreements with home insurance companies, on 9 February 2021 the Competition and Markets Authority (‘CMA’) released the non-confidential version of its infringement decision. The (...)

The Chinese SAMR issues antitrust guidelines for the platform economic industry
King & Wood Mallesons (Beijing)
10 Highlights of the Antitrust Guidelines for Platform Economy* On 10 November, the Anti-Monopoly Bureau of the State Administration for Market Regulation (“SAMR”) issued the Antitrust Guidelines for the Platform Economic Industry (draft for comments) (“Platform Guidelines”). [1] The release of (...)

The EU Commission publishes an inception impact assessment for a potential revision of the vertical block exemption regulation
White & Case (Brussels)
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Latham & Watkins (Brussels)
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Latham & Watkins (Brussels)
New EU Antitrust Rules for Distribution – European Commission’s Inception Impact Assessment* On 23 October 2020, the European Commission (EC) published its inception impact assessment of policy options for a potential revision of the EU Vertical Block Exemption Regulation (VBER) and accompanying (...)

The EU Commission publishes a list of issues to consider in the review of the competition rules that apply to distribution agreements
Portolano Cavallo (Milan)
On November 17, we hosted a webinar on distribution and vertical agreements in EU competition law. The aim was to provide a cross-border and multi-jurisdictional perspective on such issues thanks to the participation of distinguished colleagues from Blomstein (Berlin) and Kramer Levin (Paris). (...)

The EU Commission conducts an extensive review in which it analyses the practice of applying the current vertical block exemption regulation and determines the scope and character of guidance to be provided
Bird & Bird (Warsaw)
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Bird & Bird (Warsaw)
Online platforms and e-commerce have significantly changed the business environment since the current Vertical Block Exemption Regulation (“VBER”) was adopted. They have had a huge impact on the way business is conducted and on the behaviours of consumers who can switch within different online (...)

The EU Commission publishes an inception impact assessment as part of the reform of the vertical block exemption regulation
Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
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Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
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Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
On 23 October 2020, the European Commission (“Commission”) published an Inception Impact Assessment (the “Inception Assessment”) (available here) as part of the revision of the Vertical Block Exemption Regulation (“VBER”) and the Vertical Guidelines in anticipation of the expiry of the VBER on 31 May (...)

The EU Commission releases a staff working document evaluation on the vertical block exemption regulation which gives guidance on online restrictions
Ecija & Asociados (Madrid)
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Bird & Bird (Madrid)
The rapid development that the e-commerce sector has undergone in the last decade has meant its definitive implementation as one of the most relevant routes to market. This development has come along with important judgments of the European Court of Justice ("ECJ") on this matter. Cases such as (...)

The EU Commission publishes a staff working document on the vertical block exemption regulation but does not address any guidance on most-favored-nation clauses
Bird & Bird (Amsterdam)
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Bird & Bird (Amsterdam)
On 8 September 2020, the European Commission published its Staff Working Document (“Evaluation Document”) on the results of its evaluation of the VBER and its accompanying guidelines. One of the key gaps in the current framework is the absence of guidance on how retail parity clauses should be (...)

The EU Commission publishes its staff working document on the vertical block exemption regulation
Zepos & Yannopoulos (Athens)
On 8 September 2020, the European Commission (“Commission”) published its Staff Working Document (“SWD”) in the context of the ongoing evaluation of Regulation (EU) No 330/2010 on the application of Article 101(3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (“TFEU”) to categories of (...)

The Hong Kong Competition Authority launches a public consultation on the commitments offered by three online travel agents to remove certain parity clauses in their contracts with accommodation providers (Booking.com / Expedia / Trip.com)
Hogan Lovells (Hong Kong)
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Hogan Lovells (Beijing)
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Hogan Lovells (Hong Kong)
On 31 March 2020 the Hong Kong Competition Commission (HKCC) commenced a public consultation on the commitments offered by three online travel agents (OTAs) to remove certain parity clauses in their existing and future contracts with accommodation providers in Hong Kong. The consultation period (...)

The Czech Competition Authority rejects the appeal brought by an online travel agency company and confirms the fine imposed for entering into prohibited vertical agreements (Booking.com)
Bird & Bird (Prague)
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Bird & Bird (Prague)
Petr Rafaj, the Chairman of the Office for the Protection of Competition, rejected, by his final decision, the appeal brought by the company Booking.com B.V. ("Booking.com") and confirmed the fine amounting to CZK 8,336,000 imposed on the company for entering into prohibited vertical agreements (...)

The Turkish Competition Authority investigates an alleged anticompetitive agreement in the e-commerce sector for having implemented vertical restraints (Hepsiburada / Anka Mobil)
Erdem & Erdem (Istanbul)
Introduction With its decision dated 10.07.2019 and numbered 19-22/326-M, the Turkish Competition Board (“Board”) launched a formal investigation against D-Market Elektronik Hizmetleri ve Ticaret A.Ş. (“Hepsiburada”) and Anka Mobil Tedarik A.Ş. (“Anka Mobil”) to determine whether the relevant (...)

The Dusseldorf Higher Regional Court overturns the Competition Authority’s prohibition of narrow best price clauses (Booking.com)
Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
On 4 June 2019, the Higher Regional Court of Düsseldorf (the “Court”) ruled that narrow best price clauses are not anticompetitive and overturned the decision of the Federal Cartel Office (“FCO”) prohibiting Booking.com from using such clauses in contracts with hotel operators. ‘Narrow’ best price (...)

The Düsseldorf Higher Regional Court quashes the Competition Authority’s decision and finds a most favoured nation clause compatible with antitrust law for a hotel booking platform (Booking.com)
Heinz & Zagrosek (Köln)
Booking.com’s "narrow" MFN clauses now also permissible in Germany, Court of Appeals rules* On June 4, 2019, the Düsseldorf Court of Appeal quashed the decision of the Federal Cartel Office (“FCO”) prohibiting Booking.com to operate so-called narrow most favored nation (MFN) clauses (or best price (...)

The Düsseldorf Higher Regional Court overturns the German Competition Authority’s decision which sanctioned price parity clauses between hotel platforms and hotel operators (Booking.com)
Bird & Bird (Dusseldorf)
On 4 June 2019, the Higher Regional Court of Düsseldorf ruled that price parity clauses which prohibit hotel operators to offer lower room prices on their homepages compared to the prices offered on the booking platform are valid – overruling the decision of the German Federal Cartel Office (...)

The Czech Competition Authority imposes a fine of €322.000 on an undertaking for infringing national competition law by concluding illegal vertical agreements with accommodation establishments (Booking.com)
Bird & Bird (Prague)
On 18 December 2018, the Czech Office for the Protection of Competition ("Czech NCA") announced in a press release imposing a fine of in total CZK 8,336,000 (approx. EUR 322,000) on Booking.com for infringing the Act on the Protection of Competition by concluding illegal vertical agreements (...)

The EU Commission launches an antitrust investigation into LNG destination clauses (Quatar Petroleum)
Covington & Burling (Washington)
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Covington & Burling (London)
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Covington & Burling (London)
On June 21, 2018, the European Commission (“Commission”) started a new investigation to determine whether so-called destination clauses in Qatar Petroleum’s liquefied natural gas (“LNG”) supply contracts with European buyers infringe the European Union (“EU”) antitrust rules. The investigation comes (...)

The Turkish Competition Authority publishes its revised Guidelines on vertical agreements
ELIG Gürkaynak Attorneys-at-Law (Istanbul)
The Turkish Competition Authority (“Authority”) completed its work in progress on revising the Guidelines on Vertical Agreements (“Guidelines”) that was issued based on the Block Exemption Communiqué on Vertical Agreements (“Communiqué No. 2002/2”). It took approximately 2 years for the Authority to (...)

The Turkish Competition Authority concludes its preliminary investigation into possible abusive pricing policies in the furnishing sector (Doğtaş Kelebek Mobilya / Yataş Yorgan ve Yatak)
ELIG Gürkaynak Attorneys-at-Law (Istanbul)
Introduction On January 9 2018 the Competition Board published a reasoned decision dated September 27 2017 (17-30/487-211) following its preliminary investigation into allegations by Doğtaş Kelebek Mobilya San ve Tic AŞ that Yataş Yorgan ve Yatak San ve Tic AŞ had violated Article 4 of Law 4054 on (...)

The EU Commission accepts commitments to remove most favoured nation clauses from e-book distribution agreements (Amazon)
Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
On 4 May 2017, the European Commission (“Commission”) announced that it had accepted, pursuant to Article 9 of Regulation (EC) No.1/2003, to make binding commitments that Amazon offered ending the use of parity clauses in distribution agreements with electronic book (“e-book”) publishers. These (...)

The UK Competition Authority publishes preliminary findings on price comparison websites
Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton (London)
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Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton (London)
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Latham & Watkins (London)
In September 2016, the Competition and Markets Authority (“CMA”) launched a Market Study into digital comparison tools (“DCTs”). On March 28, 2017, the CMA published an update on the Market Study setting out its preliminary findings and areas of focus for the second part of the Market Study. The (...)

The Turkish Competition Board concludes its investigation against an online booking platform (Booking.com)
Erdem & Erdem (Istanbul)
Introduction The Competition Board (“Board”) concluded its investigation with regard to the booking services provided by Booking.com B.V. (“Booking.com”) and by Bookingdotcom Destek Hizmetleri Limited Liability Company. During its investigation, the Board has evaluated whether Articles 4 and 6 of (...)

The UK Competition Authority closes its hotel online booking investigation (IHG / Expedia / Booking.com)
United Kingdom’s Competition Authority - CMA (London)
CMA closes hotel online booking investigation* The CMA today announced that it has closed an investigation into suspected breaches of competition law in the hotel online booking sector. The investigation was launched by the Competition and Markets Authority’s (CMA) predecessor, the Office of (...)

The US Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit affirms ruling condemning masterminding the creation, organization and implementation of a conspiracy by five ebook publishers (Apple)
Sheppard Mullin (San Francisco)
The Second Circuit’s Apple Ebooks Opinion* The Second Circuit affirmed the district court and held, 2 to 1, that defendant Apple Inc. had violated Section 1 by masterminding the creation, organization and implementation of a conspiracy by five publishers of ebooks that benefited Apple, as Apple (...)

The US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit reaffirms the principle that even vertical agreements that seem lawful in the abstract can be evidence in horizontal cartel (Apple)
Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler (New York)
Second Circuit Affirms Ruling Against Apple in E-book Price-Fixing Case* We have previously posted about United States v. Apple, Inc., a blockbuster trial that ended with Judge Denise Cote of the Southern District of New York concluding that Apple had conspired with five publishing companies (...)

The EU Court of Justice and several National Competition Authorities adopt decisions regarding Most Favoured Nation clauses and rebate schemes that are relevant and applicable in the context of ASEAN competition law (Booking.com / Post Danmark)
Rajah & Tann (Singapore)
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Rajah & Tann (Singapore)
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McCarter & English (Washington)
This article has been nominated for the 2016 Antitrust Writing Awards. Click here to learn more about the Antitrust Writing Awards. Introduction As we move into the second half of the year, we examine two recent competition enforcement cases in Europe, and consider their relevance and (...)

The Italian Competition Authority issues a commitment decision and closes an investigation regarding contracts concluded between an online booking website and its partner hotels (Booking.com)
Giannino SI (Monserrato)
By a commitment decision made on 21 April 2015 in the Mercato dei Servizi Turistici-Prenotazione Alberghiere Online case (thereinfter Online Hotel Reservation) the Italian Competition Authority (ICA) has closed an Article 101 TFEU investigation against Booking. The ICA has launched the (...)

The US District Court for the Southern District of New York approves a settlement that comprises three different scenarios in a cartel case in the e-books sector (Apple e-books)
DLA Piper Weiss-Tessbach (Vienna)
Apple e-books settlement gets final court approval* On 21 November 2014 US District Judge Denise Cote gave her final approval to a settlement of the Apple e-book class action. The class action against Apple arose from allegations that Apple and five publishers conspired on the publishing (...)

The Canadian Competition Tribunal holds that third parties cannot challenge the merits of competition settlements (Kobo)
Cassels Brock (Toronto)
Third parties cannot challenge merits of competition settlements* Third parties cannot challenge underlying facts Third parties cannot challenge the factual basis underpinning settlements between the Commissioner of Competition and targets of inquiries under the Competition Act, the (...)

The US District Court for the Southern District of New York receives notification that both the class plaintiffs, state plaintiffs and the defendants have reached an agreement concerning the lawsuit in the e-books price fixing case (Apple)
DLA Piper Weiss-Tessbach (Vienna)
Apple settles with U.S. states and consumers in the e-books price fixing case* According to documents filed in a New York court on 16 June 2014, Apple has reached an agreement in principle with state governments and consumers who filed a class-action lawsuit in the e-books price fixing case (...)

The Italian Competition Authority launches an investigation for alleged vertical agreements in the online hotel booking sector (Booking.com / Expedia)
Chiomenti (Milano)
On 7 May 2014, the Italian Competition Authority (Autorità Garante della Concorrenza e del Mercato, the “Authority”) launched an investigation against Booking.com BV (hereinafter, “Booking”), Booking.com (Italia) S.r.l., Expedia Inc. (hereinafter, “Expedia”), and Expedia Italy S.r.l. for alleged (...)

The Italian Competition Authority opens an article 101 TFEU enquiry focused on the most favoured nation clauses (Booking.com / Expedia)
Giannino SI (Monserrato)
In the Online Hotel Reservation case the Italian Competition Authority (ICA) has launched an Article 101 TFEU investigation into contracts entered by two major online travel agencies (OTA), Expedia and Booking, with their partner hotels. More precisely, the ICA investigation will focus on the (...)

The Canadian Competition Tribunal suspends a settlement between the Competition Authority and e-book publishers related to a price MFN clause (Kobo)
Cassels Brock (Toronto)
The Ebooks Saga: Kobo’s challenge explained* Ebook retailer Kobo is challenging a settlement entered into by the Competition Bureau with ebook publishers. The settlement has been stayed pending this challenge. Kobo’s challenge may have major implications for competition law enforcement in (...)

The German Federal Court of Justice grants Competition Authority the right to appeal against the Dusseldorf Higher Regional Court’s ruling regarding the use of narrow parity clauses (Booking)
Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
On 14 July 2020, the German Federal Court of Justice (“FCJ”) granted the Federal Cartel Office (“FCO”) the right to appeal on points of law against the judgment of the Higher Regional Court of Düsseldorf in Booking. The Higher Regional Court of Düsseldorf (see VBB on Competition Law, Volume 2019, (...)

Unilateral Practices

The UK Competition Authority fines a price comparison website for using most favored nation clause (ComparetheMarket)
Ashurst (London)
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Ashurst (London)
On 19 November 2020, the UK Competition and Markets Authority ("CMA") announced that it had issued an infringement decision finding that the price comparison website ComparetheMarket infringed Chapter I prohibition of the Competition Act 1998 and Article 101 TFEU as a result of the use of wide (...)

The UK Competition Authority fines a price comparison website for applying most-favoured nation clause (ComparetheMarket)
United Kingdom’s Competition Authority - CMA (London)
CMA fines ComparetheMarket £17.9m for competition law breach* The CMA has fined ComparetheMarket £17.9 million after it found that clauses used in the company’s contracts with home insurers breached competition law. An investigation by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has concluded (...)

The UK Competition Authority fines a comparison website for use of wide MFN clauses (ComparetheMarket)
Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
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Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
On 19 November 2020, the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (“CMA”) fined the price comparison website ComparetheMarket, and its parent companies, £ 17.9 million for breaching the UK and EU competition rules. The CMA found that ComparetheMarket breached the prohibition of anti-competitive (...)

The UK Supreme Court rules in a licence dispute between a software and a telecommunication company and clarifies the English Courts’ approach to FRAND royalty cases (Unwired Planet / Huawei)
Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
On 26 August 2020, the UK Supreme Court issued a judgment in a licence dispute involving Standard Essential Patents (“SEPs”) pitting Unwired Planet, a US based patent assertion entity, against Huawei, a Chinese telecommunications company that produces smartphones. Unwired Planet brought an (...)

The French Competition Authority accepts the commitments made by an online travel agency (Booking.com)
European Commission (Brussels)
The French, Italian and Swedish Competition Authorities Accept the Commitments Offered by Booking.com* In their investigations of so-called "price parity" clauses (also called "best price" clauses) contained in agreements between online travel agencies (OTAs) and hotels, the French Competition (...)

The US District Court for the Northern District of California denies motion for summary judgment that a company’s standard essential patent licensing practices breached its FRAND obligations (ASUS / InterDigital)
Hogan Lovells (Washington)
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Hogan Lovells (Washington)
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Baker McKenzie (Washington D.C.)
This article has been nominated for the 2020 Antitrust Writing Awards. Click here to learn more about the Antitrust Writing Awards. In a decision published in redacted form, Judge Beth Labson Freeman of the Northern District of California denied ASUSTek Computer Inc.’s and ASUS Computer (...)

The Spanish Competition Authority closes abuse of dominance proceedings through a commitments decision against a pharmaceutical company (IMS Health)
Callol, Coca & Asociados (Madrid)
On 13 July 2017, the NMCC closed the Article 102 TFEU and Article 2 of the Spanish Competition Act (Competition Act) proceedings related to the supply of pharmaceutical marketing data to IMS Health (IMS) by means of a commitments decision. The NMCC initiated the investigation, as a result of (...)

The EU Commission accepts remedies proposed by an electronic commerce company in the e-books case (Amazon)
DG COMP (Brussels)
Antitrust: Commission accepts commitments from Amazon on e-books* The European Commission has adopted a decision that renders legally binding the commitments offered by Amazon. The commitments address the Commission’s preliminary competition concerns relating to a number of clauses in Amazon’s (...)

The EU Commission seeks feedback on commitments proposed by an electronic commerce company in e-book investigation (Amazon)
DG COMP (Brussels)
Antitrust: Commission seeks feedback on commitments offered by Amazon in e-book investigation* The European Commission is inviting comments on commitments offered by Amazon to address competition concerns relating to parity clauses in contracts with publishers. The clauses may breach EU (...)

The Belgian Competition Authority closes its investigation regarding a real estate website due to remedies offered by the undertaking (Immoweb)
Belgian Competition Authority (Brussels)
The Investigation and Prosecution Service of the Belgian Competition Authority has closed its investigation against Immoweb due to commitments offered by Immoweb* On January 30 2015, the Investigation and Prosecution Service opened an ex officio investigation against Immoweb, the company (...)

The Turkish Competition Authority fines an undertaking for abusing of its dominant position via implementing exclusionary MFC clauses in its agreements (Yemeksepeti)
ACTECON (Istanbul)
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ACTECON (Istanbul)
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ACTECON (Istanbul)
With the developments in online services, our habits in everyday life has been changing rapidly. Nowadays, one can cater any of its needs via websites or simple smartphone apps instantly. And all these developments have also been reflected its effects on maybe one of our most common and (...)

The EU Commission opens an investigation on e-book’s distribution agreements concluded between several publishers and an electronic commerce company (Amazon)
DG COMP (Brussels)
Commission opens formal investigation into Amazon’s e-book distribution arrangements* The European Commission has opened a formal antitrust investigation into certain business practices by Amazon in the distribution of electronic books ("e-books"). The Commission will in particular investigate (...)

The Italian Competition Authority renders legally binding the commitments proposed by an online hotel booking company (Booking.com)
Italian Competition Authority (Rome)
Commitments offered by booking.com: closed the investigation in Italy, France AND Sweden* On 21 April 2015, the Italian Competition Authority has rendered legally binding the commitments offered by Priceline Group’s companies Booking.com BV and Booking.com (Italy) and closed, with respect to (...)

The Italian Competition Authority initiates antitrust proceedings concerning the use of the most favored nation clauses in the online hotel reservations space (Booking.com / Expedia)
Ashurst (Milan)
Italian competition authority investigates online hotel bookings* On 7 May 2014, the Italian Competition Authority (“Agcm”) initiated proceedings (decision only available in Italian) against Booking.com and Expedia in the online hotel reservations space. This is yet another case in the wake of (...)

Mergers

The Canadian government increases the threshold for a pre-closing merger notification under the Competition Act
Norton Rose Fulbright (Toronto)
The threshold for certain pre-closing net benefit reviews under the Investment Canada Act (ICA) and the threshold for a pre-closing merger notification under the Competition Act have been increased for 2016. Competition Act Canada uses a two-part test for determining whether a pre-merger (...)

Regulatory

The EU Commission launches a public consultation as part of the ongoing review of the vertical block exemption regulation
Van Bael & Bellis (Brussels)
On 18 December 2020, the Commission launched a public consultation as part of the ongoing review of the Vertical Block Exemption Regulation (“VBER”) and its accompanying Vertical Guidelines. Based on the recently completed evaluation, the Commission concluded that, while the rules are still (...)

The EU Commission endorses the toolbox of mitigating measures aiming to secure 5G network in the Union due to alleged ties between certain telecom equipment suppliers and foreign governments
Jones Day (Amsterdam)
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Jones Day (Brussels)
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Jones Day (Brussels)
In January 2020, the European Commission endorsed the Toolbox of mitigating measures agreed by the Member States of the European Union to address security risks related to the rollout of 5G. The protection of national security, and cybersecurity in particular, are unquestionably legitimate (...)

The German Competition Authority publishes discussion paper on internet platforms in merger control, contractual restrictions of competition and abuse of dominance scenarios
Heinz & Zagrosek (Köln)
The FCO publishes discussion paper on internet platform markets* On October 1, 2015, the FCO published a paper entitled “Digital economy – internet platforms between competition law, privacy and consumer protection” on the occasion of a conference of the working group competition law (consisting (...)

The OECD holds roundtable on disruptive innovations and their effect on competition
OECD - Competition Division (Paris)
Executive summary, by the Secretariat On 16 June 2015, the OECD Competition Committee held a Hearing on Disruptive Innovation (“Hearing”). The purpose of the Hearing was to discuss competition policy responses to new technologies or business models that have the potential of profoundly (...)

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