Changes to Chile’s Competition Law

Chile has amended its Competition Law to “consolidate [its] leadership as a sophisticated agency in Latin America.”

Continue Reading

Overview of the Proposed Reforms of the EU Merger Control Regime

In October 2016, the European Commission launched a public consultation to continue the process of identifying possible areas of the EU Merger Regulation suitable for refinement, improvement and simplification.

Continue Reading

US Supreme Court to Review Patent Exhaustion Doctrine

On December 2, 2016, the Supreme Court of the United States granted cert in a key case regarding the scope of the patent exhaustion doctrine, or “first sale doctrine,” as it relates to (1) sales of a patented item subject to restrictions on post-sale use and (2) authorized sales of a patented article outside of the United States. The US Supreme Court’s resolution of this case will have important implications for secondary markets for patented products and global commerce.

Read the full article.

Aerospace and Defense Series: Trump Administration—Potential for Increased Antitrust Leniency for Vertical Transactions in the Defense Industry

President-elect Donald Trump has called for a dramatic increase in defense spending including purchases of new ships and warplanes as well as the addition of tens of thousands of new troops. This increase in spending generally bodes well for the aerospace and defense industry and potentially signals a new era of growth for companies in this space. This article examines how M&A transactions are likely to be reviewed in a Trump administration, with particular focus on “vertical” transactions.

Read “Trump Administration—Potential for Increased Antitrust Leniency for Vertical Transactions in the Defense Industry”

The Italian Competition Authority Investigates Alleged Margin Squeeze in the Italian Bulk SMS Market

On 16 November 2016, the Italian Competition Authority (the “Authority”) opened a proceeding against Vodafone Italia and Telecom Italia for alleged abusive conducts in the bulk SMS market. According to the Authority, both companies would have abused their dominant position in the upstream market of SMS termination services through alleged abusive conducts aimed at excluding or limiting other competitors’ ability to compete in the downstream bulk SMS market.

According to the Authority, Vodafone Italia and Telecom Italia would have implemented a margin squeeze strategy in breach of Article 102 TFUE. In particular, the tariffs applied by Vodafone Italia and Telecom Italia in the upstream and downstream markets would leave an insufficient margin for any efficient competitor to cover their own specific costs for providing the bulk SMS service to customers, therefore preventing or restricting their access to the downstream market. The opening of the investigation follows a complaint filed with the Authority by a smaller competitor operating in the downstream bulk SMS market. The proceeding is scheduled to close on 30 November 2017.

Gabriele Giunta contributed to this post

Model Management Services, Italian Competition Authority Fines 8 Modelling Agencies and Their Trade Association for Price Fixing

On 11 November 2016, the Italian Competition Authority (the Authority) fined eight modelling agencies (B.M. S.r.l. – Brave, D’management Group S.r.l., Elite Model Management S.r.l., Enjoy S.r.l., Major Model Management S.r.l., Next Italy S.r.l., Why Not S.r.l. and Women Models S.p.a.) and their trade association (Assem) of € 4.5 million for alleged price collusion. According to the Authority, the modelling agencies would have agreed on the applicable prices on the market with the aim of avoiding any form of competition. In particular, the alleged price collusion would have concerned all the components of the prices applied to the major maisons and other clients (e.g., fees for models, wages for the modelling agencies and other additional costs). Furthermore, a practical role would have been played by the trade association, Assem, where the modelling agencies had held frequent meetings to develop the alleged concerted practice.

In calculating the fine, the Authority took into account that the alleged conduct took place between 2007 and 2015. Moreover, the Authority granted to Img Italy S.r.l. the full immunity from fines given that it revealed the existence of the alleged conduct. Regarding the European scenario, on 29 September 2016, the French Competition Authority fined the main trade association, SYNAM and 37 modelling agencies of €2.38 million for price fixing. In addition, there is a pending investigation of the Competition and Market Authority into alleged anti-competitive conducts in the model management services in United Kingdom.

Gabriele Giunta contributed to this blog post.

French Competition Authority Imposes Its First Ever Fine for Gun-Jumping

For the first time ever, on 8 November 2016 the French Competition Authority (FCA) sanctioned companies for implementing a transaction that had been notified to the FCA but not yet received a clearance decision, behaviour commonly known as “gun-jumping”. Continue Reading

Seventh Circuit Hands FTC Another Geographic Market Definition Victory in Chicago Hospital Merger Case

On October 31, 2016, the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit handed another important victory to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the State of Illinois in a hospital merger case in Chicago, Illinois. This decision follows closely on the heels of the FTC’s victory earlier this year in FTC v. Penn State Hershey before the US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit and, like that prior case, is a strong endorsement for the FTC’s analytical approach to hospital mergers. Continue Reading

Misleading Terms & Conditions and Unfair Contract Terms: The Italian Competition Authority Opens Two Investigations against WhatsApp Inc.

On 28 October 2016, the Italian Competition Authority (the “Authority”) opened two investigations against WhatsApp Inc. for alleged unfair commercial practices. The first investigation by the Authority alleges that WhatsApp Inc. would have forced users to subscribe to new terms and conditions, in particular, a clause on the sharing of data with Facebook, by making users believe that, otherwise, they would have not be able to use the service. On another other side, the Authority opened a second investigation regarding other alleged unfair commercial practices. According to the Authority, WhatsApp Inc. would have included in its “Terms of Use” unfair contracts terms, including the exercise of the right of withdrawal granted exclusively to the company, the limitation on liability in favor of the company and the identification of the competent court for disputes resolution (currently only US Courts). Finally, the Authority also opened a consultation on these alleged unfair contract terms.

These investigations emerged after the Italian Data Protection Authority, on 27 September 2016, opened an investigation on WhatsApp’s new privacy policy and the data flow from WhatsApp Inc. to Facebook. In particular, the Italian Data Protection Authority asked WhatsApp Inc. to clarify certain aspects regarding the communication of data to Facebook, such as the typology of data communicated, the modality for the acquisition of consent for the communication and the measures adopted to ensure the compliance with data protection laws.

Gabriele Giunta contributed to this blog post.

Antitrust M&A Snapshot: July – September 2016 Update

UNITED STATES:

Continuing an active first half of 2016, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and US Department of Justice (DOJ) have challenged several large mergers and acquisitions. In fact, trials for the two national health insurer deals are slated to begin Q4 of 2016 in Washington, DC, where the agencies have had success in obtaining preliminary injunctions this year. Adding to the regulators’ successes in Q3 was a victory for the FTC on appeal in the Penn State Hershey Medical Center/PinnacleHealth System transaction, in which the Third Circuit overturned the district court’s formulation of the geographic market. Indeed, with another appeal in a hospital merger outstanding in the Seventh Circuit, Health Care M&A is an active sector to monitor.

In addition to the agencies’ operations, the upcoming US presidential election has also propelled antitrust policy into a national discussion. For the first time in a few decades, antitrust has appeared on the Democratic Party’s platform, and Hillary Clinton has also issued a statement promising to strengthen antitrust enforcement if elected president.

EUROPEAN UNION:

The July to September period has seen 87 merger control notifications, the vast majority being candidate cases for simplified procedure. There were also eight clearance decisions, five of which were Phase I cases with remedies—in each case, structural remedies were preferred by the European Commission (EC).

Antitrust intervention seems to have been focused more on the telecoms and pharmaceutical sectors, with divestitures being offered in every telecom and pharma Phase I and Phase II clearance decision since July.

Read the full article here.

LexBlog