Competition

Various national competition authorities (“NCAs”) are continuing to consider sustainability arguments in competition cases. However, NCAs are increasingly diverging in their approach as to whether, and to what extent, they are willing to allow sustainability considerations in the competition law framework. This blogpost highlights a few recent developments in jurisdictions on both sides of the Atlantic.Continue Reading Sustainability Agreements: Potential Divergence between Authorities

On April 27, 2023, the Commission presented its draft regulation on SEPs (“Draft SEPs Framework Regulation”, retrievable here).

Under the aegis of DG GROW, but in close consultation with DG COMP, the Commission seeks to address what some have perceived as lack of transparency and predictability in the licensing of SEPs.  The Commission had previously expressed its concern in its Intellectual Property (IP) Action Plan of 2020 and 2017 Communication and suggested that this situation could lead to a cumbersome and costly licensing process for both owners and implementers of SEPs.  The Commission sought feedback via a public consultation between February and April 2023.

The draft SEPs Framework Regulation would:

  • Establish a Competence Centre to register SEPs at the European Union Intellectual Property Office (“EUIPO”) and providing an electronic register and database with extensive information about SEPs;
  • Oblige the owners of SEPs to register any claimed SEP in the database;
  • Create additional essentiality checks through the Competence Centre;
  • Establish an out-of-court procedure to determine fair, reasonable, and nondiscriminatory (”FRAND”) conditions and aggregate royalties for use of a given standard.

Continue Reading Draft Regulation – The EU Commission Proposes a new Framework for the Licensing of Standard Essential Patents (“SEPs”)

On Episode 20 of Covington’s Inside Privacy Audiocast, Dan Cooper, Co-Chair of Covington’s Data Privacy and Cyber Security practice, and Christian Ahlborn, Partner in Covington’s Competition practice, discuss the recently enacted EU Digital Markets Act (DMA) in the first part of our “Competition and Privacy” mini series.

For more information on the DMA

Continue Reading Inside Privacy Audiocast: Episode 20 – Competition and Privacy Series: The EU’s Digital Markets Act

On 22 June 2022, the EU’s General Court (“GC”) fully dismissed thyssenkrupp’s appeal against the European Commission’s (“Commission”) decision to block its proposed joint venture (“JV”) with Tata Steel in 2019.

This is the first time that the GC has considered the prohibition of a “gap” case under the EU Merger Regulation (“EUMR”) since it annulled the Commission’s prohibition of CK Hutchison’s proposed acquisition of Telefónica UK (O2) in 2020 (“CK Hutchison”) (see our previous blog post here). A “gap” case is a merger in an oligopolistic market that does not result in the creation or strengthening of an individual or collective dominant position. Rather, it risks causing a “significant impediment to effective competition”.

This result may indicate a return to a more traditional approach by the GC as regards “gap” cases than that demonstrated in the CK Hutchison judgment. The judgment also provides helpful guidance on the interpretation of the EUMR and other legal instruments (such as the Market Definition Notice and the Notice on Remedies). The key findings are:

  • Standard of proof: In order to block a “gap” merger, the Commission must show with a sufficient degree of probability that the transaction significantly impedes effective competition in the internal market or in a substantial part of it.
  • SSNIP test: The Commission is not required to apply the SSNIP (small but significant and non-transitory increase in price) test when assessing substitutability between products — it is only one of the methods available to the Commission when defining the market.
  • Remedies: When assessing remedies, it is not necessary to demonstrate that the remedies remove the entire overlap between the merging parties or re-create fully the pre-merger structure in affected markets.
  • Requests for Information (“RFI”): There is no procedural error where the Commission fails to take additional steps (beyond sending systematic reminders) to ensure that recipients respond to an RFI.

Continue Reading EU General Court Upholds Tata Steel/thyssenkrupp JV Prohibition

The UK’s NSI Act comes into force on January 4th, 2022. In these brief audio recordings, our team sets out what companies in the energy, life sciences and technology sectors need to know about the UK’s newly expanded investment control regime. For further details contact any member of our London team.

In this episode, our
Continue Reading The UK’s National Security and Investment Act Audiocast Series: Episode 3 – Technology

The UK’s NSI Act comes into force on January 4th, 2022. In these brief audio recordings, our team sets out what companies in the energy, life sciences and technology sectors need to know about the UK’s newly expanded investment control regime. For further details contact any member of our London team.

In this episode, our
Continue Reading The UK’s National Security and Investment Act Audiocast Series: Episode 2 – Life Sciences

On 3 November, the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (“CMA”) issued a recommendation to the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to replace the EU Vertical Agreements Block Exemption Regulation or ” VABER” with a UK Vertical Agreements Block Exemption Order (“UK Order”) when the VABER expires on 31 May 2022.  The VABER (which provides a safe harbour from the prohibition against anti-competitive agreements for vertical agreements that meet the applicable requirements) formed part of retained EU law following Brexit, but its upcoming expiry triggers the need for a UK Order to be issued in its place.
Continue Reading The UK CMA publishes its recommendation for replacing the retained Vertical Agreements Block Exemption Regulation

The UK’s NSI Act comes into force on January 4th, 2022. In these brief audio recordings, our team sets out what companies in the energy, life sciences and technology sectors need to know about the UK’s newly expanded investment control regime. For further details contact any member of our London team.

In this episode, our
Continue Reading The UK’s National Security and Investment Act Audiocast Series: Episode 1 – Energy

On 6 October 2021, a preliminary ruling of the Court of Justice of the European Union (“CJEU”) in Sumal confirmed that follow-on damages actions can be brought against subsidiaries of companies found to have infringed EU competition law. This note briefly analyzes the judgment and the implications thereof.
Continue Reading The CJEU’s Sumal Judgment: Parental Liability is “Going Down”

Introduction

On 23 July 2021, the European Commission (“Commission”) adopted an extension of the scope of the General Block Exemption Regulation (“GBER”). The revised rules concern:

  • Aid for projects funded via certain EU centrally managed programmes under the new Multiannual Financial Framework; and
  • Certain State aid measures that support the green and digital transition and are also relevant for the recovery from the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

Continue Reading Amended GBER simplifies State aid rules for projects supporting the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic