Relaxing whilst doing Competition Law is not an Oxymoron

Archive for February 2011

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In the forthcoming weeks, the Brussels School of Competition (“BSC”) will host a series of three weekly lectures on “The Procedural and Institutional Framework of EU Competition Enforcement

Our speakers are Fernando Castillo de la Torre (Legal Service, European Commission) and our friend Luis Ortiz Blanco (also Alfonso’s boss ).

We still have a few seats free. See registration form and details below.

Important for Alfonso’s growing fan-club: our co-blogger will most likely make a “not to be missed” guest appearance at the BSC.


Written by Nicolas Petit

28 February 2011 at 9:51 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Weekend reading and a confession

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For those of you who can get some  time off  to do some reading this weekend, this is a real must: Why (Ever) Define Markets? , by Louis Kaplow.

PS.  I was reading last week a piece on the identity of the real people behind  many tweets, facebook status updates and posts attributed to celebrities, politicians and others. It made us reflect and  feel bad for not having been completely open to our readers. We too have a ghost writer who does most of the work for us. He´s quite shy, but as a exception, has admitted to have a picture taken: here he is.

Written by Alfonso Lamadrid

25 February 2011 at 10:59 pm


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Some time ago, we have been informed of a forthcoming large, big, huge move on the Brussels legal market.

The story is now official:

Our friends Trevor Soames, Miguel Rato, Stephen Mavroghenis, Götz Drauz and Geert Goeteyn are joining Shearman and Sterling as partners.

They take with them a bunch of top notch associates (we’ll report on that in the next days).

Best of luck to all of them at S&S.





Written by Nicolas Petit

24 February 2011 at 2:35 pm


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Shame on me: I cheated on chillin’competition.

Yesterday, a short piece emanating from my computer was posted on adjudicating europe, a blog commenting on the case-law of the Court of Justice.

I attach hereafter a longer version of this post in the form of a working paper. As usual, I’d be happy to have your comments.

And BTW, it deals with the judgment of the ECJ in VEBIC, a case that we covered on this blog a few weeks ago.

BSC WP – The Judgment of the European Court of Justice in VEBIC – A Tale of Two Statutory Loopholes – N Petit _22 02 11

Written by Nicolas Petit

24 February 2011 at 11:37 am

Posted in Our Publications

Google News

with 4 comments

Things are developing on the Google front, and for some reason the timing of the most significant developments is practically coincidental:

The complainants in the EU investigation on Google are as active as we had forecasted. A supplementary complaint has just been lodged before the European Commission by the French company 1plusV, which controls, one of the original complainants. More on the content of the complaint here.

Almost in parallel, the Texas Attorney General disclosed on Tuesday some details on the information that it requested from Google a year ago concerning the operation of its search algorithm (see here ).

The new complaint and those revelations come at at moment of growing  rumors on the likelihood of an early settlement. Apparently there have been a number of preliminary talks (including a meeting between Eric Schmidt and Commissioner Almunia), although the Commission has made clear that the investigation is ongoing. An offer of commitments on the part of Google seems to be the most sensible solution from Google´s standpoint it it wants to avoid entering into a never-ending legal battle with the Commission. In fact, Google´s CEO has been reported to be thinking along these lines (see here).  As we´ve said before, I very much doubt that complainants and other of Google´s competitors would be satisfied; I bet that the case will be taken to Luxembourg no matter what, but given the Commission´s litigation record in art. 102 cases (and ultimately the Alrosa litigation) there´s no doubt Google would rather have the institution on its side.

Unrelated to the EU investigation, but also of interest is the fact that the American Antitrust Institute  has published a white paper arguing that the DOJ should seriously consider challenging Google´s acquisition of ITA Software. It strikes me that the AAI, whose members should probably have very divergent views, has taken such a defined institutional position on this particular deal, but the paper makes an interesting read anyhow. 

PS. Once again, all the info above has been found through Google News.

Written by Alfonso Lamadrid

23 February 2011 at 3:50 pm

Nut Complaint

with 2 comments

After MSFT I and II, bringing an Article 102 TFEU case against the Redmond giant may have seemed an easy shot.

This is probably what prompted the Omnis Group to lodge in December 2009 a complaint with the Commission alleging violations of Article 101 and 102 TFEU.

The Commission rightly dismissed the complaint in December 2010.

From both a factual and legal standpoint, the complaint looks indeed like a (bad) competition joke. 

Read and judge for yourself:

  • The allegations relating to Article 102 TFEU concern a market (Enterprise Resource Planning software) on which MSFT had a market share<5%. When the Commission disputed the complainant’s dominance allegation, Omnis Group had this to reply: the Commission’s data – which is based on market intelligence from Gartner and IDC – is flawed. Microsoft lied to market research companies. Quotes from wikipedia confirm Microsoft’s important market position…
  • Besides invoking all the existing types of antitrust violations under Article 101 and 102 (tying, refusal to deal, discrimination, cartel (!), monopoly (!)), the complainant took issue with a number of exotic antitrust infringements: misuse of European funds, violations of public procurement rules and corruption by Microsoft. No comment.
  • Last, but not least, the complainant requested a oral hearing pursuant to Regulation 773/2004.

Omnis Group lawyers should be commended for their knowledge of competition law, and their impressive mastering of legal strategy.

This, to me, is one of the nuttiest cases of 2010.

Written by Nicolas Petit

22 February 2011 at 9:30 pm

Posted in Case-Law

Much Ado about Nothing

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Some topics exercize a somewhat irrational fascination on competition lawyers and should not.

Take, for instance, “hub and spoke agreements“. Lately, this topic has been amongst the trendiest issues in competition law circles.

However, those are just ordinary vertical agreements with horizontal anticompetitive effects (read collusion). Conceptually, they should be dealt with along the lines of multi-agency contracts, english clauses, single branding agreements and so on.

Viewing hub and spoke agreements as a novel kind of agreements is purely formalistic reasoning.

The bottom-line: I will fight any proposal to organise an event on hub and spoke agreements :).

Written by Nicolas Petit

21 February 2011 at 4:21 pm

Posted in Uncategorized