Despite the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, the EU Vertical Agreement Block Exemption Regulation (retained VABER) continues to offer a safe harbor with respect to potentially anti-competitive vertical or supply agreements with an effect on trade within the UK. In this Alert, Steptoe’s EU Competition Team analyses the UK Competition and Market Authority’s recently issued
Home-Coming of Cadbury Dairy Milk Chocolate Bars (Part 1)
On March 2, 2021, the UK signed a trade partnership agreement with Ghana. Recently, Cadbury, which is wholly owned by Mondelez, has announced that it is moving some production of its iconic Dairy Milk chocolate bars from Germany to the UK. This note, which is in two parts, considers the connection between the trade partnership agreement between the UK and Ghana and the relocation of Cadbury’s Dairy Milk chocolate production to the UK from the EU and the implications this will have in terms of supply chain management.
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The European Commission’s Findings of the Evaluation of the Vertical Block Exemption Regulation
On September 8, 2020, the European Commission (Commission) published its findings of the evaluation of the Vertical Block Exemption (VBER) and the Vertical Guidelines.
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Measures to Protect Against Predatory Conduct
Perhaps the first authority to warn about the perceived risks, the UK’s CMA issued a warning on 6rh March 2020 to traders about taking advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic. CMA chief executive Andrea Coscelli said: “We urge retailers to behave responsibly throughout the coronavirus outbreak and not to make misleading claims or charge vastly inflated prices. We also remind members of the public that these obligations may apply to them too if they resell goods, for example on online marketplaces.” This warning was triggered by the rising cost of hand sanitisers. The CMA went on to warn that it would take enforcement action against those suspected of such conduct and, if necessary, would also consider requesting the Government to introduce price controls. It has created a taskforce to monitor market behaviour during the crisis. Details about the Taskforce, its mandate and how to lodge complaints can be found here.
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Sale Restrictions in the European Union Attract Large Fines
On January 30, 2020, The European Commission fined a group of companies belonging to the Comcast Group, including NBCUniversal, €14.327 million for illegally restricting sales of film merchandise products in Europe. The fine already includes a 30% reduction that was awarded for NBCUniversal cooperating with the European Commission beyond what is required by law.
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Guess Where Enforcement Stands Post E-Commerce Sector Inquiry?
On December 17, 2018, the European Commission (EC) imposed on the clothing company Guess a hefty penalty of EUR 40 million for allegedly severe restrictions relating to the online sales activities of its authorized distributors. The full text of the Decision was published by the EC on January 25, 2019.
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More on Platform Bans: Caudalie Wins a Hard Fought Battle in France
On July 13, 2018, the Paris Court of Appeal (Cour d’appel de Paris) finally upheld Caudalie’s marketplace ban, putting an end to a five-year legal saga. This judgment is highly interesting in that it goes beyond the landmark 2017 Coty judgment by ruling that platform bans may, under certain circumstances, apply to non-luxury products – a question that was left open in Coty.
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UK Competition and Market Authority Takes Another Stab at Most Favored Nation Clauses
Brexit may well be around the corner, but antitrust enforcement is still alive and well on the other side of the Channel. On November 2, 2018, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), the UK national competition authority, announced that it had provisionally found that ComparetheMarket, a home insurance price comparison site, may have infringed both…
Halloween Holiday Reading: French Competition Authority Revisits Platform Ban in a Post-Coty World
With Halloween around the corner, the French Competition Authority (FCA) is revisiting chainsaw massacre: on October 24, 2018, it adopted a decision imposing a 7 million euros fine on chainsaw manufacturer Stihl for imposing a de facto ban on online sales to its distributors (see press release here). Even more importantly, contrasting with previous…
Resale Price Maintenance, Pricing Algorithms and Monitoring Software: a Recipe for Disaster
Today, in four separate decisions, the European Commission (EC) fined consumer electronics manufacturers Asus, Denon & Marantz, Philips and Pioneer €111 million for imposing fixed or minimum resale prices on their online retailers, as well as limiting the ability of retailers to sell cross-border (see press release here).
The topic of vertical restraints is admittedly not new – quite the opposite, in fact. However, today’s decisions are highly relevant for businesses engaging into e-commerce, as they are the first ones to take stock of the EC’s findings in the recent e-commerce sector inquiry, in particular as far as pricing algorithms and monitoring softwares are concerned.…
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