parliment flags

On 15 January 2015, Ofcom announced that it had sent a draft pricing rule to the European Commission made under its “ex ante” regulatory powers rather than competition law. The rule would mean that BT, as the former national telecoms company and owner of much of the infrastructure, would have to maintain a sufficient margin between its wholesale and retail superfast broadband charges to allow competitors such as TalkTalk and Sky to compete. What this means is that if BT –Read More–

On 26 November 2014, EU Advocate General (AG) Wathelet delivered his opinion in the closely followed Huawei v ZTE patent dispute. Although the opinion is not binding, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) follows the AG’s opinion in around 80% of cases. The AG tries to steer a middle course of balancing the interests of both patent holder and putative licensee but he ultimately sides with the rights of the licensee in such battles. The opinion almost rules out the –Read More–

On 1 October 2014, the Belgium Court of Appeal held that requirements that spare parts providers also had to be authorised dealers infringed Article 102 of the TFEU, the abuse of a dominant position. This judgement is a timely reminder that product manufacturers need to be particularly careful if they want to impose similar restrictions on their distribution network and be prepared to justify their use if challenged. Careful structuring of distribution systems is therefore advised The case stemmed from –Read More–

On 16 October 2014, the Chinese Supreme People’s Court (SPC) delivered its judgment in the first case under the Antimonopoly Law which came into force in 2008. The case is being closely monitored by international business and legal advisers alike to ascertain how the emerging Chinese competition and antitrust law will be interpreted. The case involves the running battle between one of China’s largest instant messaging providers Tencent, and the provider of anti-virus software Qihoo. In 2011, Qihoo filed an –Read More–

On 15 October 2014, the EU Commission handed down its decision finding that for more than five years (from 12 August 2005 to at least 31 December 2010) Slovak Telekom AS and its parent company Deutsche Telekom AG pursued a strategy, in breach of EU antitrust rules, to shut competitors out of the broadband services market in the Slovak Republic. Slovak Telekom is the owner of the only nation-wide telephone metallic access network, which was put in place when it –Read More–

BeIN Sports France won a crucial victory against Canal + in the battle over lucrative sports broadcasting rights. The Commercial Court of Nanterre decided that the Qatari sports channel (BeIN Sport France is a subsidiary of the Qatari Al Jazeera Network) did not engage in unfair competition against the French Vivendi group subsidiary, Canal +. Not even one year after BeIN Sports’ entry on the French pay TV market in the summer of 2012, Canal +, sued BeIN Sport for allegedly recommending distribution –Read More–

On 10 July 2014, the EU Court of Justice (CJEU) sent sighs of relief through the EU Commission when it upheld in its entirety the Commission’s 2007 fine against Telefonica for a margin squeeze in the Spanish broadband market. The decision puts an end to a long fight by Telefonica, disputing the €151 million fine levelled against it. The ruling is important because the CJEU has affirmed the principle from the Deutsche Telekom case of 2010 that a company can –Read More–

On 9 July 2014, the European Commission announced that the French pharmaceutical company Servier, and five other drugmakers (Niche, Matrix, Teva, Krka and Lupin) have been fined a total of €427.7 million by the European Commission. The fines were imposed after a series of deals were concluded aimed at blocking the introduction of cheaper generic drugs (so called ‘pay for delay’ agreements). The Commission found these agreements to be anti-competitive and fined the companies under Article 101 TFEU. Concurrently, the –Read More–

Facing pressure from certain hotel owners and consumers, France has taken action in response to certain marketing policies and practices that on-line travel agencies (OTAs) are imposing. In June, the French Minister of Economy Arnaud de Montebourg, revealed that a lawsuit has been filed in February 2014 before the Paris Commercial Court against the OTA for alleged abusive clauses in its standard contracts with hotels. The main clause in contention was the parity clause whereby the hotel undertakes to provide the OTA with –Read More–

On June 19 2014, Ofcom made two announcement that will shape the competitive landscape in superfast broadband. In the first announcement, Ofcom have provisionally dismissed a complaint by TalkTalk against BT, first made in March 2013. BT provide the hardware for access to superfast broadband, both to itself and to rival operators such as TalkTalk. TalkTalk alleged that BT were guilty of abusing their dominant position under Article 102 TFEU by failing to maintain a sufficient margin between their upstream –Read More–

On 29th April 2014, the European Commission issued two landmark competition Decisions relating to a series of disputes that have commonly become known as “patent wars”. The Decisions are important because they clarify for the first time whether, and in what circumstances, a patent holder seeking to enforce Standard Essential Patents through litigation (and more particularly injunctive relief) can be guilty of an abuse of a dominant position under the EU competition rules (namely Article 102 of  the Treaty for –Read More–

In an important decision of December 18, 2013, the French Competition Authority (“FCA”) fined Schering-Plough and its parent companies a total of EUR 15.3 million for impeding the launch of a generic drug destined to compete with its pain-killer Subutex®. Schering-Plough (the “Laboratory”) acquired in 1997 the exclusive commercialisation rights for Subutex® (a medicine prescribed in case of opiate addiction) in France from its manufacturer, the English company Reckitt Benckiser. In January of 2006 the French Authority in charge of –Read More–

The UK High Court has sent a strong signal to businesses in a dominant position that it is willing to grant interim injunctions to protect businesses who accuse others of abusing their dominance when the latter refuse to supply them services. The case of Dahabshiil Transfer Services Ltd v Barclays Bank plc and Harada Ltd and another v Barclays Bank plc [2013] EWHC 3379 (Ch) was heard before the English High Court on the 5 November 2013. Although businesses are –Read More–