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Archive for December 17th, 2010

Wrapping up the week / Case T-427/08, CEAHR v Commission

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This week was full of news, some of which we didn´t echo here. This is a quick overview of what has happened since Monday:

The European Commission adopted its new guidelines on horizontal agreements and, as anticipated on this blog -aren´t we good at this?  -,  appointed Kai Uwe Kühn as DG COMP´s Chief Economist.

The General Court issued two  important competition-related judgments.  In case T-141/08 the Court upheld the Commission´s decision sanctioning E.ON with a 38 million euro fine for the breach of a seal during a dawn-raid. Of a greater substantive interest  is the Judgment in case T-427/08, discussed below.

On the “Google front”, the Conseil de la Concurrence issued the formal opinion commented here; the Commission took over the investigation of two additional complaints that been lodged before the Bundeskartellamt (which, as stated by the Commission´s spokespeople, won´t change the nature of the ongoing investigation). Unrelated to the investigation, but equally interesting,  is a blog post written by Google´s Deputy General Counsel replying to a call for stricter antitrust scrutiny over Google´s acquisitions.

Gossip column: Nico was  undeservedly promoted to the category of Professor. Also,  it became known yesterday that Damien Geradin, a longtime co-author of his, is leaving Howrey and joining Covington&Burling (and stay tuned: similar news will be coming soon..).

Case T-427/08, CEAHR v Commission

So much for the headlines, let´s move on to a most welcome substantive development from the General Court.

The complaint: The European Confederation for watch repairers associations lodged a complaint before the Commission alleging that watch manufacturers had engaged in agreements and/or concerted practices and/or abused their dominant position by refusing to continue to supply spare parts to independent repairers.

The Commission´s decision rejecting the complaint. Now, guess on what grounds the Commission rejected the complaint… yep: lack of Community interest. The rejection decision arrived at that conclusion noting that (i) the complaint concerned a market of  limited size and economic importance; (ii) there was no evidence suggesting the existence of an infringement, and that it was likely that the selective distribution schemes were covered by the block exemption for vertical agreements; (iii)  it had reached the prima facie conclusion that repair services and spare parts did not constitute independent relevant markets and rather had to be assessed within the wider market for luxury watches; (iv) the allocation of more resources to the investigation wasn´t likely to allow the Commission to identify an infringement; and (v) national authorities and courts are well placed to deal with such complaints.

The Judgment. The judgment starts by emphasizing that the Commission´s discretion in the examination of complaints is not unlimited, and undertakes the review, one by one, of the reasons put forward by the Commission to justifify the alleged lack of community interest. In doing so, the Court provides valuable guidance on various fronts.

(This will be a bit lengthy; if you´re interested, keep on reading) Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alfonso Lamadrid

17 December 2010 at 8:46 pm