Relaxing whilst doing Competition Law is not an Oxymoron

Change of tone

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Today’s edition of The New York Times features an interesting piece on the “change of tone” that migh have taken place at DG Comp with regard to antitrust intervention in high-tech industries. It argues that the Commission is now favouring effective and timely solutions instead of the time-consuming proceedings and the headline grabbing large fines that characterized “Steely Neelie’s” era (their expression, not ours!)  The article attributes this change to the lessons learned throught the Microsoft case as well as to the appointment of Joaquín Almunia as Competition Commissioner.

Very importantly, The New York Times once again quotes a certain Professor Petit, from the University of Liège 😉

The piece does not make any mention to the change of key people at DG COMP’s Unit in charge of  IT, Internet and Consumer Electronics. Per Hellström -who was until now its Head of Unit- is leaving for the merger unit dealing with energy and utilities. Its successor will be facing a huge workload and quite a few challenges, many of them in the form complaints, which these days are growing like mushrooms in the IT sector. If our information is correct, the Commission will be appointing an excellent new Head of Unit (sorry, but this time we can’t give you the Chillin´leak…yet).

One of the hottest potatoes on the desk of the new Head of Unit will be to deal with the many IP-related complaints and ongoing investigations. This will be precisely the topic of an interesting lunch talk held today by Concurrences, Arnold&Porter and CRA, that I will be attending in a few hours (will have already attended by the time this post is published).

This is not the sole social competition law event of the day. Nicolas and I have also been very kindly invited to attend the gala dinner for the EU Business Summit. The downside (apart from the fact that given the presence of the Royal Family we’ll have to shave) is that I´ll be missing the Real Madrid-Bayern match (any email informing on the evolution of the match will be greatly appreciated!).  And this leads us to the final piece of info of today’s post:

Bayern Munich appears to be fighting Spanish clubs not only in the pitch. DG Comp confirmed yesterday that, pursuant to a complaint lodged by German clubs, it is now investigating whether Spain is granting unlawful State aids to a number of clubs. Two years ago we already said that there was a risk that this could happen. We’ll keep you posted on this too.

Written by Alfonso Lamadrid

25 April 2012 at 5:30 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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