On 3 June 2021, the European Court of Justice (“ECJ”) in case C-563/19 P Recylex v Commission dismissed Recylex’ appeal both to adjust its ranking in the leniency process and to receive partial immunity for parts of its participation in the Car Battery Recycling cartel.  The judgment, on appeal against the judgment of the General Court (“GC”) of 23 May 2019, provides guidance to companies considering a leniency application when there is already an ongoing European Commission (“Commission”) investigation.

Applying for leniency enables cartel participants to obtain reduced or annulled fines.  The 2006 Commission Notice on Immunity from fines and reduction of fines in cartel cases  (“Leniency Notice”) sets out the key principles:

  • the first company providing the Commission with sufficient evidence for an investigation will be granted full immunity;
  • subsequent applicants can receive fine reductions of 30-50%, 20-30% or 20% depending on the timing of their submission; and
  • companies can receive partial immunity for providing the Commission with details expanding the scope of the infringement.


Continue Reading ECJ provides guidance on key cartel questions: the partial immunity concept and rankings for leniency applications

Does the General Court’s recent ruling in Goldman Sachs/European Commission provide new guidance on the parent liability of financial investors in cartel cases? Yes and no. Yes, because it shows what will not suffice to avoid parental liability. No, because it is silent as to whether in fact and if so how a financial investor can be distinguished from an “industrial” shareholder, and what criteria have to be met to escape parent liability.
Continue Reading Parental liability in EU cartel enforcement: has the presumption of decisive control become irrebuttable?

The European Commission published its highly anticipated Communication Setting out the EU approach to Standard Essential Patents at the end of 2017, as part of a package to protect Europe’s know-how and innovation leadership (see Commission Press Release Intellectual property: Protecting Europe’s know-how and innovation leadership).

The first section proposes concrete measures to improve the transparency of standard essential patents (SEPs) exposure.  Whether or not the proposed measures are useful, it is not clear what impact they will have on the market as there is no legislative force behind them.

The second section, eagerly awaited by competition SEP specialists, deals with the interaction of SEP holders and licensees, and in particular the persistently hot topic of FRAND licensing and SEP enforcement. This section may be disappointing for those who were hoping for guidance on some of the more difficult aspects of SEP licensing terms.  While widely debated and lobbied between patent holders and users in the run up to its release, the Communication is silent on two key issues – “use-based licensing” and “licensing to all”.


Continue Reading The EU Commission Communication on SEPs: a workable resolution to patent wars in the EU, or more competition litigation battles ahead?

The Regional Court in Hamburg rejected complaints by newspapers Zeit Online and Handelsblatt seeking to have Eyeo GmbH prohibited from selling its AdBlock Plus software. The ruling establishes the important principle that ad-blocking is legal, however there are other cases pending against AdBlock Plus in Germany that suggest that there may be more to come on this issue.

Continue Reading Ad Blocking Declared Legal: German Court Dismisses Discrimination Claims Brought by Publishers, but AdBlock Plus Maker Eyeo is Not Home Free Yet