In the News
OFT issues Statement of Objections in online travel agency case
The OFT has issued a Statement of Objections alleging that Booking.com, Expedia and InterContinental Hotels have infringed Article 101 and the Chapter I prohibition in relation to the online supply of room only hotel accommodation by online travel agents. The Statement of Objections alleges that Booking.com and Expedia each entered into separate arrangements with Intercontinental Hotels which restricted the online travel agent's ability to discount the price of room only hotel accommodation. Click here.
European Commission sends Statement of Objections to Lundbeck and others for preventing market entry of generic antidepressant medicine
The European Commission has sent a Statement of Objections to Lundbeck and four generic competitors regarding agreements concerning citalopram, a blockbuster antidepressant. The Commission alleges that the agreements were aimed at preventing the market entry of cheaper generic medicines, in violation of Article 101. In particular, the Commission alleges that the agreements involved substantial value transfers from Lundbeck to the generic competitors, which subsequently abstained from entering the market with generic citalopram. The value transfers are alleged to include direct payments from Lundbeck to the generic competitors and other forms, such as the purchase of generic citalopram stock for destruction or guaranteed profits in a distribution agreement. Click here.
European Commission sends Statement of Objections on perindopril to Servier and others
The European Commission has sent a Statement of Objections to Servier and several of its generic competitors regarding practices concerning perindopril, a cardio-vascular medicine. The Commission alleges that Servier acquired scarce competing technologies to produce perindopril, rendering generic market entry more difficult or delayed, contrary to Article 102. It also alleges that Servier unduly protected its market exclusivity by inducing its generic challengers to conclude patent settlements aimed at delaying or preventing the entry of cheap generic versions of perindopril, contrary to Article 101. Click here.
European Commission discussing commitments with Google
Joaquin Almunia, Competition Commissioner, has confirmed that the Commission is exploring the possibility of accepting commitments from Google under Article 9 of Regulation 1/2003. The Commission opened an investigation at the end of 2010 following the receipt of a number of complaints. In May 2012, Vice President Almunia announced that he had invited Google to offer remedies to address four areas of potential competition concern arising from Google's practices: giving preferential treatment to its own vertical search services; copying content from competing vertical search services; exclusive agreements for search advertisements; and restrictions on portability of online search advertising campaigns. Mr Almunia stated that Google have now given sufficient explanations so as to be able to proceed with technical meetings to explore the possibility of commitments. Click here.
European Commission approves acquisition of aviation equipment company Goodrich by rival United Technologies, subject to conditions
Following a Phase II investigation the European Commission has cleared the proposed acquisition of Goodrich Corporation by United Technologies Corporation, both US-based companies active in the production and sale of aviation equipment on a worldwide basis. The approval is conditional upon the divestment of Goodrich's businesses in electrical power generation and in engine controls for small engines. It is also subject to Rolls Royce being granted an option to acquire Goodrich's lean burn fuel nozzle R&D project. The Commission had concerns that the transaction would have left the merged entity without a sufficient competitive constraint on the market for power generation. It also had concerns that some competing engine suppliers, which depend on Goodrich for certain components such as fuel nozzles and engine controls, could be shut out from access to these components as a result of the merger. Click here.
European Commission sends supplementary statement of objections to Visa
The European Commission has informed Visa of additional concerns about possible violations of Article 101 concerning multilateral interchange fees (MIFs) set by Visa for transactions with consumer credit cards in the EEA. The Commission alleges that the MIFs restrict competition between banks and cannot benefit from exemption on the basis that they are not necessary to create efficiencies that benefit merchants and consumers. Click here.
Articles 101 and 102
- The European Commission has closed its investigation in the P&I Clubs case. The investigation focused on the International Group Agreement and the Pooling Agreement between the P&I Clubs that contain rules on the sharing of marine insurance claims and joint marine reinsurance, as well as rules on the contractual relationships between the P&I Clubs and their members. The aim of the procedure was to examine whether certain provisions of the agreements lessened competition between P&I Clubs and/or restricted the access of commercial insurers or other mutual P&I insurers to the relevant markets. After opening proceedings in August 2010, the Commission conducted a market investigation with ship owners, brokers and commercial insurers. The market investigation was not sufficiently conclusive to confirm the Commission's initial concerns. Click here.
- Following its competition inquiry into the pharmaceutical sector of 2008/2009, the European Commission has issued its 3rd report on its monitoring of patent settlements in the pharmaceutical sector. The report finds that, while the overall number of concluded settlements has significantly increased, the proportion of settlements that may be problematic for competition has fallen by half, as compared to the levels observed at the time of the sector inquiry. Click here.
Court of Appeal
- The Court of Appeal has dismissed BAA's appeal against the judgment of the Competition Appeal Tribunal, which upheld the Competition Commission's July 2011 decision confirming the requirement on BAA to divest Stansted airport (as originally set out in its 2009 market investigation report). Click here.
- The Court of Appeal has upheld an appeal against a judgment of the Competition Appeal Tribunal on the time limit for bringing a follow on damages action. The Court held that the limitation period is extended while any appeal against the relevant European Commission infringement decision is pending before the European Courts, irrespective of whether the company being sued for damages has itself brought an appeal. Click here.
- The Court of Appeal has reduced the revised fine that the Competition Appeal Tribunal had decided should apply to Interclass, following its appeal against the OFT's construction cover pricing decision. The Court decided that the CAT did not provide objective justifications for its decision to increase the starting point of the revised fine for the purposes of deterrence. The Court therefore set aside the CAT's decision and reduced the fine from £324,000 to £202,000. Click here.
- The Competition Commission has published its final report in the pay-TV movies inquiry. The report confirms the Commission's revised provisional findings that Sky's position in relation to the acquisition and distribution of movies in the first pay window does not adversely affect competition in the pay-TV retail market. Click here.
- The Competition Commission has provisionally cleared DCC Energy UK Limited's completed acquisition of heating and transport fuel distribution businesses previously owned by Total Downstream UK plc. Click here.
- The Competition Commission has published an order requiring local bus operators that manage bus stations to provide access to bus stations for rival operators on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms. This means that the Commission has now completed all of its work following the two-year investigation into the local bus industry. Click here.
- The Competition Commission has published its notice of acceptance of final undertakings in relation to the Anglo/Lafarge merger inquiry. Click here.
- The OFT has published a report on the home insulation market which makes a number of recommendations to the Government and others, intended to improve consumer protection and encourage more competition and choice in the sector. Click here.
- Ofcom has published its Enforcement Guidelines, which set out procedures for handling competition complaints and complaints concerning regulatory rules. The guidelines include explanations of Ofcom's enforcement powers, how it carries out investigations and the format for submitting a complaint to Ofcom. Click here.
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