China: "买耗材,赠设备"商业模式的风险与合规

Last Updated: 3 March 2017
Article by Dentons  

"买耗材,赠设备"商业模式的风险与合规

2016-08-12 商业合规观察 作者:戴健民 邓志松

买耗材,赠设备"商业模式的风险与合规

大成反垄断与竞争团队:戴健民 / 邓志松

【案例】

A公司为A品牌医用检测仪器的全国总经销商;B公司为二级经销商;C公司则位列B公司之下,为三级经销商。自2008年起,A公司开始采用"买耗材,赠设备"的商业模式。具体的做法是:由C公司出面与医院达成协议,约定该医院在5年内采购一定数量的A品牌耗材试剂,而C公司则向其提供A品牌医用检测仪器,供其5年内免费使用。之后,A公司在保留仪器所有权的前提下,与B公司签订仪器安置协议,将仪器使用权转交B公司。B公司以同样的方式,将仪器使用权转交C公司。最后,C公司与合作医院签订安置协议,将仪器转交医院使用。而配套的耗材试剂,则由A公司通过B公司转售给C公司。最后,由C公司销售给医院。在A公司的账目中,上述仪器成本131万余元,以固定资产折旧的形式在5年内摊消。而B公司、C公司和涉案的12家医院均未将涉案仪器记入各自的账目。

执法机构认为,A公司、B公司和C公司的上述行为违反了《反不正当竞争法》第八条的规定,构成商业贿赂违法行为,故依法对3家公司分别作出行政处罚,共计没收违法所得158.78万元。

 【评析】

研究上述案例,我们可以看出,A公司在采用"买耗材,赠设备"商业模式的过程中,已经注意到了可能存在的合规风险。对此,A公司布置了两道防线予以避险。一是保留涉案检测仪器的所有权;二是由C公司作为最终向医院赠送仪器和销售耗材的经营主体。其中,第一道防线的用意在于,通过保留涉案检测仪器的所有权,消除"采用财物进行贿赂"的事实基础,从而根绝被认定为商业贿赂的风险。而第二道防线的意图是,让C公司扮演"防火墙"的作用。即一旦仍被执法机构认定为属于违法的商业模式,仍可以由C公司出面承担相应的法律责任,从而避免风险和不利影响波及A公司。

然而,事实证明A公司的策略并不成功。究其原因,我们认为这是该企业对商业贿赂的法律渊源、界定标准和执法机构的办案思路了解不够充分所造成的。

一、商业贿赂概念的法律渊源

商业贿赂,顾名思义是发生在商业领域的贿赂。商业贿赂的概念主要见于以下法律、部门规章及规范性文件:

1、《反不正当竞争法》——1993年9月2日由全国人民代表大会常务委员会通过,并自1993年12月1日起实施。

该法第八条规定:"经营者不得采用财物或者其他手段进行贿赂以销售或者购买商品。在帐外暗中给予对方单位或者个人回扣的,以行贿论处;对方单位或者个人在帐外暗中收受回扣的,以受贿论处......";

2、《关于禁止商业贿赂行为的暂行规定》——1996年11月15日由国家工商行政管理总局颁布并实施。

    该部门规章的第二条规定:"......本规定所称商业贿赂,是指经营者为销售或者购买商品而采用财物或者其他手段贿赂对方单位或者个人的行为......";

3、《关于在治理商业贿赂专项工作中正确把握政策界限的意见》(以下简称:"《治理商业贿赂的意见》")——2007年5月28日由中央治理商业贿赂领导小组印发。

该规范性文件的第三条规定:"商业贿赂是在商业活动中违反公平竞争原则,采用给予、收受财物或者其他利益等手段,以提供或获取交易机会或者其他经济利益的行为"。

二、商业贿赂概念的界定

上述法律法规对于商业贿赂定义的演变,体现了随着时代的进步,立法机关对于商业贿赂概念的界定日趋完善。

虽然,商业贿赂概念始于1993年的《反不正当竞争法》,但在其法条中并未采用"商业贿赂"这一表述,而似乎更关注于对回扣行为的规制。这也是在相当一段时间内,执法机构和经营者普遍将商业贿赂等同于回扣的原因。

1996年颁布的《关于禁止商业贿赂行为的暂行规定》显然注意到了这一问题,故不再拘泥于回扣行为,而将商业贿赂的概念界定为一切"为销售或者购买商品而采用财物或者其他手段贿赂对方单位或者个人的行为"。这一界定拓展了商业贿赂概念的外延,并通过指出行为的主观目的,进一步丰富了商业贿赂概念的内涵。然而,条文中以仍以"贿赂"来定义"商业贿赂"。这种"同义反复"的作法普遍为法学界所诟病。

时至2007年,在《治理商业贿赂的意见》中,终于对这一概念,给出了较为科学的界定。即将商业贿赂概念定义为:"商业贿赂是在商业活动中违反公平竞争原则,采用给予、收受财物或者其他利益等手段,以提供或获取交易机会或者其他经济利益的行为"。任何企业在制定商业模式时,应当将这一界定作为是否合规的重要参照。

三、"买耗材,赠设备"商业模式存在的问题

比照《治理商业贿赂的意见》中对于商业贿赂的界定和相关法律、法规的规定,可以发现"买耗材,赠设备"的商业模式本身,确实存在着诸多合规问题。

(一)"买耗材,赠设备"的商业模式不属于捐赠

对于捐赠与商业贿赂的界限问题,《治理商业贿赂的意见》第六条第(3)项明确规定:"捐赠应当符合公益事业捐赠法以及其他有关规定,明示并如实入账,不直接或间接与商品交易挂钩,不损害其他经营者合法权益,并且用于公益事业。以捐赠为名,通过给予财物获取交易、服务机会、优惠条件或者其他经济利益的,属于商业贿赂"。《医疗卫生机构接受社会捐赠资助管理暂行办法》第三条也规定:"医疗卫生机构接受社会捐赠资助必须遵守国家法律、法规,坚持自愿无偿的原则,符合公益目的。不得损害公共利益和公民的合法权益,不得接受附有影响公平竞争条件的捐赠资助,不得将接受捐赠资助与采购商品(服务)挂钩,不得以任何方式索要、摊派或者变相摊派"。

案例中,A公司免费提供检测仪器使用权是与销售配套耗材试剂相挂钩。因此,其不属于受法律保护的捐赠行为。

(二)可用金钱数额计算的财产性利益属于"财物"

案例中,A公司为了避嫌"商业贿赂",特意在协议中保留了检测仪器的所有权。但显然,A公司并不完全了解相关的法律、法规。2008年11月20日,最高人民法院、最高人民检察院印发了《关于办理商业贿赂刑事案件适用法律若干问题的意见》(以下简称:"《若干意见》")。该《若干意见》第七条规定:"商业贿赂中的财物,既包括金钱和实物,也包括可以用金钱计算数额的财产性利益......"。

上述涉案的检测仪器本身的成本为131万余元。而A公司在账目中,将其以固定资产折旧的形式在5年内予以摊消。也就使得仪器设备的使用权成为能够"用金钱计算数额的财产性利益",从而将其转化为了A公司向医院给付的"财物"。

(三)"买耗材,赠设备"的商业模式影响了公平竞争秩序

A公司通过免费提供仪器设备使用权,锁定了相关医院5年内配套试剂的购买。这在客观上排除了其他试剂企业公平竞争的合法权利。虽然,根据卫生部《关于进一步加强医疗器械集中采购管理的通知》,医用耗材采购由卫生行政部门统一管理、集中采购,采购方式以公开招标为主。但对于在中标入围的耗材供应商名单中进行选择的权利在各医院手中。而被A公司锁定的医院在选择耗材供应商时,显然已不可能按照价格机制选择其他"物美价廉"的产品。因此,"买耗材,赠设备"的商业模式对耗材试剂领域的市场公平竞争秩序的这种影响,也使A公司在执法机构的调查中,处于不利的地位。

(四)"防火墙"并不一定不可靠

在核心企业外围设置"卫星"公司作为"防火墙"的做法,已成为高合规风险行业普遍采用的避险手段。但需要注意的是,"防火墙"的作用大小,取决于"卫星"公司和"母星"间的紧密程度。两者又成反比例变化。即,在相关业务中,核心企业参与的环节越多,外围"防火墙"的防火效果越差。案例中,A公司虽然没有直接面对医院,但有证据证明是其决定了医院需要配套购买的试剂耗材数量。而涉案检测仪器的运输、安装、调试和维护均由A公司自行负责实施。在这个"买耗材,赠设备"商业模式中,A公司参与了太多的环节,这些环节就像一条条瘘管,渗透了"B、C"公司组成的"防火墙"。当大火真的来临时,"防火墙"已无法发挥避险的作用。

【建议】

虽然,A公司"买耗材,赠设备"的商业模式最终被执法机构认定为商业贿赂,但该模式实际上有其存在的合理性。医疗实践中,部分医疗机构资金有限,无法自行采购一些昂贵的医疗设备。但广大患者对这类医疗设备和服务的需求却在不断增长。"买耗材,赠设备"的商业模式确实能在一定程度上,对这一矛盾起到缓解作用。因此,我们从企业合规的角度,对该商业模式的改善提出以下建议,以供参考。

    一、避免"使用权"被转化为"财物"

虽然,《反不正当竞争法法》和《关于禁止商业贿赂行为的暂行规定》中,都有除"财物"以外"其他手段"也可构成贿赂行为标的的规定。但在执法实践中,用于贿赂的"财物"一般属于商业贿赂案件定性不可或缺的证据环节。而A公司犯下的主要失误之一,就是在账目中将涉案的设备以固定资产折旧的形式予以摊消。实际上,将"使用权"定义为"财物"本就较为牵强。况且执法机构也缺乏给"使用权"定价的法律依据。如果不是A公司自己"帮忙",为执法机构提供了一个用设备折旧成本计算"使用权"价值的思路,很难想象执法机构如何将"使用权"转化为可计算金额的"财物"。

    二、保证"防火墙"的独立性

在高合规风险行业采用"防火墙"隔离风险的运作模式是行之有效的。但如前所述,为了充分发挥其避险作用,必须保证"防火墙"在相关业务中的独立性。案例中,如果A公司是将设备销售给B或C公司,双方完成了设备所有权的转移,则A公司在抗辩执法机构将其与B、C公司作为共同违法行为主体时,将具有更为充分的理由和法理依据。同时,A公司在与B、C公司的业务往来中,应避免出现以合同、协议、备忘录或邮件等形式,指挥(指导)B、C公司向下开展业务。这些证据会坐实执法机构关于A公司与B、C公司是一个共同违法主体的定性。

    三、给予其他竞争者公平竞争的机会

为了减少对"买耗材,赠设备"商业模式破坏公平竞争秩序的诟病,不妨给予其他竞争者公平竞争的机会。即,如果企业与医院就"买耗材,赠设备"商业模式达成意向,可建议由医院出面将"买耗材,赠设备(或使用权)"作为配套耗材采购招标的条件之一,向其他竞争者公开。如此,可以削弱对企业反竞争的指控力度,并在相当程度上减少企业的合规风险。在A公司一案中,执法机构对于该公司提出的"参与医院竞标的企业都要免费提供仪器(或使用权),故没有剥夺其他经营者的竞争机会"的抗辩非常重视,曾向大量医疗器械生产销售企业调查取证,最终在确定上述抗辩内容并不属实后,才作出了行政处罚。由此可见,执法机构已将行为的反竞争性作为是否构成不正当竞争行为的重要考量之一。

    四、通过其他方式锁定耗材销量

目前,在反腐倡廉的大环境下,执法机构内部认定"商业贿赂"的标准有放宽的趋势。对此,企业应当迅速调整商业模式,以适应环境的变化。"买耗材,赠设备"模式的核心,在于锁定医院在一定时期内耗材的购买量。因此,企业可以考虑通过其他的方式实现这一目标。可推荐的方式包括:

    (一)以0首付、无息、分期付款等优惠的支付方式,取代赠送设备的商业模式;

    (二)将设备的维护保养费用与耗材的采购量相挂钩。与耗材不同,先进医疗设备的维护保养技术含量较高,是企业锁定医院的有效手段。而且,与医用耗材的定价受诸多限制不同,企业对于设备的维护保养费用,拥有较大的自主经营权。因此,通过及时、有效、费用低廉的维护保养服务,换取医院对耗材数量的承诺,不失为一种双赢的商业模式;

    (三)利用"知识产权"保护自身利益。企业可以在自身品牌耗材上印刷、嵌入企业注册商标,并在相关设备上安装一定的识别装置,通过技术手段保证在该设备上只能使用配套的耗材。而如果其他品牌耗材试图通过模仿图案骗过识别装置,则会承担侵犯他人注册商标使用权的法律风险。

需要指出的是,如果企业在相关市场中具有市场支配地位,在采用上述三种运作模式时,应持审慎的态度。否则可能引起反垄断执法机构的关注,从而承担新的合规风险。

【结束语】

市场经济的灵魂在于竞争,而竞争的原动力来自创新。"买耗材,赠设备"的商业模式,正是企业为了在我国的法律和医疗市场现状间寻求平衡而作的一次尝试。对于这种创新及其积极作用,应当得到客观公正的评价。而对于企业来说,不顾环境的变化,死守这种商业模式,则又是一种对初衷的背叛。我们相信,只要不断地创新和改变,企业们一定能成为市场经济浪尖上的弄潮儿。

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Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.

Disclaimer

The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.

General

Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions