Competition Law Update | May 2016

Written on 10 May 2016

A year on from the launch of the European Commission’s Digital Single Market initiative, competition authorities across Europe are increasingly focused on how competition law applies to tech, media and comms businesses. Although – as we discuss below – some of the Commission’s proposals have been struck by controversy and delays, the last month has also seen it driving forward antitrust cases in the digital sphere. Perhaps most notable is the abuse of dominance case against Google, with the Commission arguing that Google is exploiting the strength of its Android operating system. And in a surprise move, the Commission has announced that Paramount has offered commitments in the hotly contested Pay TV investigation, which would mean that Paramount will no longer enforce geo-blocking restrictions in its content licenses.

We also await the ECJ’s decision on when manufacturers can control the resale of their products on third party platforms such as eBay and Amazon, a key development in the wider review of the role of platforms in cross-border e-commerce.

At a national level, our experts look at the recent case against Sky and Mediaset for agreeing the allocation of football broadcast rights, comparing this to developments in the UK and Germany. We also consider the approach to resale price maintenance in Europe – can you ever lawfully fix your distributors’ resale prices? And our Paris team reports on a proposal for more stringent bribery laws in France, which may impact on your compliance policies and procedures.

As always, contact our experts to discuss any of the issues raised in this edition – and look out for our upcoming events across Europe, which we highlight below.


Digital Single Market: delays and controversy as Commission’s proposals on e-commerce, connected cars and digital content are finalised

The Digital Single Market initiative launched with ambitious timescales for some radical proposals, including the portability of digital content and the regulation of connected cars. A year on, we look at how some of those proposals are coming to fruition – and the challenges faced by the Commission.

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Platform distribution: final say or final showdown?

Can a manufacturer prevent its distributors from selling on eBay or Amazon? The European Court of Justice will soon provide the answer – and could end up in a power struggle with the German Federal Supreme Court.

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Resale price maintenance: never say never?

In Europe, resale price maintenance has always been a clear example of a ‘hard core’ restriction of competition and it could be expected that the growing focus on the anti-competitive effect of vertical agreements would only reinforce this. But some national authorities seem to be taking a more pragmatic approach – is there growing scope for setting resale prices?

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Geo-blocking investigation: European Commission publishes online and broadcast commitments proposed by Paramount

In an unexpected development, the European Commission published for consultation commitments proposed by Paramount, one of the Hollywood studios involved in the Commission’s on-going investigation into the use of geo-blocking restrictions. What now for this investigation?

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Football broadcasting rights in Europe: competition beyond the pitch

As the Italian Competition authority fines broadcasters and the Italian league for colluding on the allocation of broadcast rights, how are other Member States addressing competition in this sector?

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France adopts new law in the fight against bribery and modernisation of the economy

The 2015 Corruption Perceptions Index ranked France 23rd; far behind other European countries such as Denmark, Germany, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands. A new law may now bring France in line: what new obligations will this place on businesses?

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Osborne Clarke upcoming Events

24 May: “E-commerce: Où va la Commission ?” (Paris)

Informal breakfast roundtable discussion on the European Commission’s on-going e-commerce sector inquiry. Please contact Alexandre Glatz (alexandre.glatz@osborneclarke.com) for more details.

24 May: Das neue Kartellrecht: Risiken und Nebenwirkungen der 9. GWB-Novelle, Kooperationsveranstaltung der DAJV mit Recommind und Osborne Clarke (Köln)

Die anstehende Novelle des deutschen Kartellrechts bietet Unternehmen erweiterte Chancen zur Verfolgung von Kartellschäden. Dabei sorgen sich Konzerne vor der Einführung einer Pre-Trial Discovery ebenso wie vor der Ausweitung ihrer Haftung für Bußgelder. Technologie-Startups erwarten neue Anmeldepflichten im Rahmen der Fusionskontrolle. Unsere Veranstaltung beleuchtet die Pläne der Bundesregierung und ihre Auswirkungen auf die Unternehmenspraxis. Zusage » 

Click here for more details.

29-31 May: ABA 2016 Europe Forum – OC’s Andrew Bartlett will be speaking on A Comparison of Collective Actions from the US to the EU (30 May)

Click here for more details.