On 18 October, the German Federal Parliament (Bundestag) adopted several changes to German competition law. The new legislation still has to be passed by the second chamber of the German parliament (Bundesrat) but the changes are expected to come into force on 1 January 2013. Overall, the changes are less far-reaching than many of the proposals discussed during the preparatory phase of the reform. The changes, however, are significant and will have to be taken into account by companies doing business in Germany. The article summarizes the main points of the reform.
In Europe, the interplay between antitrust and criminal law at the national level may vary significantly by jurisdiction. Some European Union member states, such as the United Kingdom, Ireland, and Romania, have criminalized competition law. Other jurisdictions, such as Germany and Italy, do not envisage criminal penalties for anticompetitive practices; however, such conduct may sometimes qualify as a separate criminal offense. The following cases, across Europe, show that there appears to be a general trend towards more effective enforcement against serious antitrust violations – including by means of criminal penalties against individuals – and not only in the countries with criminal competition laws.
Yesterday, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that CPTN Holdings, LLC, a joint venture owned equally by Microsoft Corp., Apple, Inc. , Oracle Corp., and EMC Corp, has agreed to modify its agreement to acquire certain patents from Novell, Inc. in order to allay antitrust concerns raised by the transaction. The Department had expressed concerns that the original deal would threaten the ability of open source software to innovate and compete in critical software markets. The modifications to the deal will allow it to go forward, but the Department emphasized that it will continue to monitor distribution of the patents to ensure continued competition. The transaction also received antitrust clearance from Germany’s Federal Cartel Office. The German and American authorities cooperated closely on the matter, aided by waivers from the parties that allowed information sharing between the two agencies. Regulators are increasingly attuned to the effects of intellectual property transactions on competition.
For more information on the CPTN Holdings, LLC transaction, you may find the following links useful: