The Bundeskartellamt Publishes a Paper on Big Data and Competition

On 6 October 2017, the German Competition Authority (the “FCO”) launched a new series of papers on “Competition and Consumer Protection in the Digital Economy” with its first paper on “Big Data and Competition” (available in German) (the “Paper”). The FCO sets out its view of the specific characteristics of digital, data-based markets, the role data may play in the competitive analysis of such markets and the importance of data protection in competition law proceedings. Continue Reading

The German Competition Register – a new animal in the jungle of EU Member States’ competition laws

On 29 July 2017, the new German Competition Registry Act (Wettbewerbsregistergesetz – WRegG) became effective. Organisations offering public tenders worth EUR 30,000 or more will have to check the register to verify whether participating undertakings are excluded from public procurement because of past offences. The new register will be hosted by the Federal Cartel Office (Bundeskartellamt – BKartA) and has to be implemented by 2020 latest.

According to press reports (PaRR of 26 September 2017), a senior official of the BKartA, indicated that the BKartA is now planning a directive on the register’s standards and procedures.

Why is this noteworthy? Continue Reading

Price comparison websites: The UK’s CMA weighs in on the competition law, data protection and consumer protection requirements

The UK’s competition regulator, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), has published a 349 page Final Report (combined with 5 Background Papers and a glossary) on its Market Study into what it refers to as Digital Comparison Tools (DCTs) – a term which includes price comparison websites, best buy tables, and other more automated services like matching services which analyse complex usage patterns, voice-based comparison tools, and reverse auction platforms. The CMA concluded that consumer experiences of these services were mostly positive, although there were concerns over:

  • Competition law implications of exclusive or preferential arrangements;
  • Data protection law and the use of personal data;
  • Consumer protection law and the transparency of arrangements between these sites and the services that they are comparing.

Continue Reading

Welcome clarifications by the EU Court on the concept of excessive pricing

On 14 September, the Court of Justice of the European Union provided detailed guidance on the concept of excessive pricing under Article 102 TFEU, in response to questions posed by the Latvian Supreme Court.

In Case C-177/16, the Latvian Supreme Court referred a number of questions to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) regarding the concept of excessive pricing.

This resulted from a series of appeals relating to a decision that the Latvian Competition Council (LCC) took over conduct of the Consulting agency on copyright and communications / Latvian authors’ association (AKKA/LAA), the Latvian collective management organisation handling copyright licences for (Latvian and foreign) musical works in Latvia. The 2013 infringement decision found that the AKKA/LAA had abused its dominant position by imposing excessive music licence fees for music played in Latvian retailers and service providers. Continue Reading

The European Court of Justice’s Judgment in Intel

Today the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) issued its long-awaited judgment in Intel Corporation Inc. v European Commission. It sets aside the judgment of the General Court (GC) on the basis that the judges failed to assess the effects of the loyalty rebate schemes implemented by Intel on competition in the EEA. The CJEU refers the case back to the GC. Continue Reading

The European Commission Publishes its Final Report on the E-commerce Sector Inquiry

On 10 May 2017 the European Commission published its Final Report on the E-commerce Sector Inquiry (the “Report”).  The Commission’s E-commerce Sector Inquiry, launched on 6 May 6 2015 as part of the Digital Single Market Strategy, gathered evidence from nearly 1,900 companies connected with the online sale of consumer goods and digital content.  The Commission published its initial findings on geo-blocking in an issues paper in March 2016, and its Preliminary Report in September 2016.  The Final Report sets out the Commission’s definitive findings from the Sector Inquiry.

Continue Reading

The DSM mid-term Platform Proposals

The Commission published the mid-term review of its Digital Single Market strategy today. The report reviews the development of the strategy over the last two years, and announces a number of new initiatives, including initiatives relating to important areas where action is needed to address digitization, including: (i) the free flow and accessibility of data, (ii) alignment and strengthening of cybersecurity strategy and standards, and (iii) online platform practices and co-ordination.

Continue Reading

German Ministry for Economy Publishes a White Paper on Digital Platforms

On 20 March 2017, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (the “Ministry”) published its Digital Platforms White Paper (the “White Paper” and launched a dedicated web portal), reflecting at least in part the results of its consultation on its Green Paper on Digital Platforms. The White Paper sets out several proposals for digital policy to facilitate growth of digital platforms on the basis of fair competition while guaranteeing individuals’ fundamental rights and data sovereignty. The Ministry appears to start from the premise that digital platforms sometimes fall outside the scope of German competition, consumer protection and commercial laws, such that the White Paper seeks to address this perceived enforcement gap.

Continue Reading

ASICS’ ONLINE SALES RESTRICTIONS CONFIRMED AS ILLEGAL BY DUESSELDORF HIGHER REGIONAL COURT

On 5 April 2017, the Duesseldorf Higher Regional Court confirmed the August 2015 decision of the Federal Cartel Office finding that it is anti-competitive and therefore illegal to impose on distributors a general prohibition on the use of online price comparison portals.

The Cartel Office had faulted Asics over imposing the following restrictions on its distributors: (1) a complete ban on the use of online marketplaces such as eBay or Amazon; (2) restricting supporting price comparison engines; (3) prohibiting the use of the Asics brand names on third party websites; and (4) the very detailed segmentation of distributors into more than 20 categories, and resulting restrictions on cross-deliveries to other authorised distributors in other categories and on the product ranges for supply to final customers.

Continue Reading

LexBlog