Relaxing whilst doing Competition Law is not an Oxymoron

Archive for December 2012

Nicolas Petit- an Ordinary Professor

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I’ve just realized that I forgot to share some good news with you.

A few days ago I learnt that Nicolas had been promoted to Professeur Ordinaire. To be frank, given my absolute ignorance about Belgian academia (among vety many other subjects), going from Professor to Ordinary Professor rather sounded like a downgrade.

But nope, Google tells me that Nico has managed to attain the highest possible academic position at age 33, which is very hard to understand impressive. While writing this I’ve realized that he also turned 34 on Saturday (which of course I forgot).

Congrats and best of lucks, Nico!


Written by Alfonso Lamadrid

31 December 2012 at 4:29 pm

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Death Star economics: on market power and technological innovation

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A couple of days ago the FT published an interesting piece on how market power in the tech sector might disprove assumptions about technological rates of progress. According to the author, science fiction had long anticipated the trends we are seeing today.

I could dsummarize the piece, but since (i)I broke my arm/shoulder skiing; (ii) it’s taking me ages to type with my left hand (not that there’s much else I can do..), and (iii) many of you are probably on holidays, you can probably spare a couple of minutes to read it here.

Btw, happy new year !!!!

Written by Alfonso Lamadrid

31 December 2012 at 4:03 pm

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Xmas Gift

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My Xmas gift here: Poster – LLM in Competition and IP Law, the new poster of the University of Liege LL.M in Competition and IP law.

This programme keeps improving.

We have this year a very enthusiatic group of studs’ from all over Europe and beyond.

And for the upcoming year, we plan to (i) open a new academic position (senior lecturer) on a set of IP courses; and (ii) pursue the official lauching of the Liège Competition and Innovation Institute (LCII)

Written by Nicolas Petit

26 December 2012 at 12:10 pm

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A lawyer’s Christmas card

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Written by Alfonso Lamadrid

25 December 2012 at 4:01 pm

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Xmas List

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Dear Santa,

I have been very brave this year. So here’s my Xmas list for 2013:

  • A Commission Article 10 inapplicability decision;
  • An article 102 TFEU collective dominance case;
  • A judgment quashing a Commission decision under Article 102 TFEU;
  • Many, very many rulings in the spirit of Post Danmark;
  • No ruling in the spirit of TeliaSonera;
  • A recognition that dominant firm conduct can be de minimis, and in turn presumably lawful;
  • Individual penalties for EU competition law infringements;
  • Less articles on Article 6 ECHR and, more generally, on procedural issues;
  • The clear recognition that the “restriction by object” concept is probabilistic in nature (i.e. a restriction by object means nothing but conduct which will very likely exert anticompetitive effects);
  • A guidance letter from the Commission;
  • DG COMP to take a few complaints lodged by SMEs, and not only open investigations when Google, Microsoft, Samsung or Apple are concerned;
  • Shorter judgments;
  • Judgments in understandable English (or French);
  • A recognition that coordination theories of harm related to horizontal cooperation agreements should be assessed on the basis of the Airtours standard;
  • Impact studies in competition cases (on this, am not so sure actually);
  • A flexible traineeship at DG COMP 🙂

Thanks Santa. You can deliver all this throughout 2013, not need to bring everything tomorrow.


PS: to all readers, a terrific Xmas

Written by Nicolas Petit

24 December 2012 at 8:59 pm

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Xmas at work

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xmas at work

The big news this week was Almunia’s declaration that settlement talks with Google were making progress.

And that the Commission was still following the same four leads it was following 7 months ago:

  • Preferential placement of Google’s vertical search services on general search results;
  • Unpreferential placement of third party content on Google’s vertical search services;
  • Exclusivity agreements for the delivery of Google search advertisements on other websites; and
  • Restrictions in the portability of advertising campaigns rom its platform AdWords to the platforms of competitors.

But what really struck me is the following. Almunia declared that he “expect[ed] Google to come forward with a detailed commitment text in January 2013″.

The other day in a post, I expressed compassion for Microsoft’s antitrust lawyers. Today, all my thoughts are with the poor Google’s lawyers. They likely will spend an awful a busy Xmas break preparing Almunia’s Xmas gift.

Yet another reason why I am glad to no longer work for Biglaw.

Xmas at work? Not for me!

Written by Nicolas Petit

23 December 2012 at 8:50 pm

The Friday Slot (14) – Wouter Wils

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This new edition of the Friday slot hosts Mr. Regulation 1/2003 Wouter Wils, Hearing Officer at the European Commission. What impresses me the most about Wouter is his unparalleled ability to work as a full-time Commission official, meanwhile maintaining a cutting-edge academic production. When I mean cutting-edge, what I have in mind is his track record of well-documented, solid and sophisticated papers, in the spirit of US antitrust scholarship.  Interestingly, another reason why I hold Wouter in great admiration  is because he dares occasionally to depart from the Commission’s official party line. Finally, Wouter is one of those few lawyers who can comfortably navigate the troubled waters of competition economics. His latest piece on compliance programmes is an absolute must read.

1. “Oscar” of the best competition law book?  And of the best non-competition-law book?

Best competition law book  Anne-Lise Sibony’sLe juge et le raisonnement économique en droit de la concurrence.

Best non-competition-law book  Marcel Proust‘s A la recherche du temps perdu.

2. Oscar” of the best case-law development in the past year? “Oscar” of the worst case-law development?

As human nature does not change, and our generation is not smarter than previous generations, there is no reason why the law should constantly be changing. Each generation rediscovers and reapplies the same basic principles.

I particularly like the opinions of Advocate-General Kokott, which explain very clearly the basic principles, for instance most recently in C-440/11 P Portielje and Gosselin.

3. Average working time/week?

I don’t count.

4. Why do you work in competition law? How did you first get into it?

Accidentally. When I arrived in the Commission’s Legal Service in 1994, I was put in the Competition team, because they needed a Dutch-speaker, and maybe also because of my dual education as economist and lawyer. If I had been asked what I wanted to do, I would have answered environmental law, because in my previous job as référendaire at the Court of Justice I had worked on very interesting cases under the Birds Directive.

5. Most interesting, intense or funny moment of your career?

The most interesting thing I did was being part of the ‘groupe de modernisation‘ ( – we still worked in French at that time – ), led by Gianfranco Rocca, which between 1997 and 2000 conceived and wrote the White Paper and the Commission’s legislative proposal for what became Regulation 1/2003.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Nicolas Petit

21 December 2012 at 9:28 pm

Posted in The Friday Slot

Best Xmas e-card so far

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A quick post.

Our email boxes are flooded with Xmas e-cards those days.

My preferred so far is Cromo’s (Crowell & Moring). Check it out, it is really nice.

Above, the Brussels School of Competition‘s Xmas e-card.


Written by Nicolas Petit

21 December 2012 at 10:33 am

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Antitrust law blogs

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Competition law blogs are mushrooming. This means that Chillin’Competition is now subject to intense competitive pressure, and that Lindsey McSweeny will start having problems to pick the monthly posts for CPI’s Blogs o’ Blogs.

Some of you might remember that when Nico falsely announced that we were done with Chillin’Competition a new blog called Chilled Competition was rapidly created. Its first (and only) post was entitled “Low barriers to entry”. And it was very right: ayone can enter this market; in fact, as you will see below there are already a few entrants challenging incumbents.

Kartellblog. We have the intuition that it’s a great blog. Unfortunately we cannot confirm it because neither of us can read German…

Prof. Sokol’s blog: The best source of information for new antitrust-related publications. We don’t know how he does it, but he finds out about almost anything that is published.

The Antitrust Hotch Potch. As you know, prior to starting Chillin’Competition Nicolas used to run the Antitrust Hotch Potch with Damien Geradin. Damien kept the blog and the trademark and has since then re-started it (about 3-4 times in the past few months) 😉 Damien has an admirable ability to surround himself with smart people (like Nico back in the day) and this time he has been joined by young Covington associates, namely John Wileur, Christos Malamataris and Jennifer Boudet. It’s a great initiative, so good luck! We will be happy to generate some debate with them (a piece of humble advice: in our experience it’s important to identify the person writing each post!).

Kluwer Competition Law Blog. This one features very good stuff. It currently has more than 20 co-authors (including people who we know well and like, such as Thomas, Damien, José, Gavin…. ). In spite of the different styles it generally features very interesting stuff. The only thing we miss is more regular updates.

Competition Bulletin. Written by 10 authors (Blackstone Chambers barristers + Oke Odudu) this blog features very interesting stuff, notably on UK competition law. I should have mentioned them here before (my apologies for the delay).

Truthonthemarket. It not only covers antitrust issues, but also wider economic or IP-related issues. Its posts are always timely and insightful.

Derechomercantilespana. Written by Jesús Alfaro, who does an amazing job covering all sorts of corporate and competition related development several times a day. How he gets the time is beyond me. The content ranges from a Judgment by a lower Court in a tiny village in Spain, to comments on EU to good music  Non-spanish speakers won’t be able to enjoy it though.

– There are also a handful of blogs covering jurisdictions other than the US and the EU.  Harün Gündüz once asked us to help advertise TurkishCompetitiionBulletin (well done!). Lalibrecompetencia is an excellent source of info on Latin American issues.

Chillin’Competition: Written by two freak weirdows. One is a University Professor who spends his life in a car and likes to have his pic on his browser’s address bar. The other is a lawyer who somehow tricked his firm into letting him spread nonsense in the public domain. We frankly would not recommend you to ever read it. For each decent post they write there are dozens of nonsensical ones.

Written by Alfonso Lamadrid

20 December 2012 at 12:43 pm

Chimerical Remedies

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Last week-end, I watched “Inception” again. This is a terrific movie.

And it has an antitrust angle. The story is about a dominant energy conglomerate (Fischer industries if my recollections are correct).

And this dominant firm threatens to eliminate its main rival from the market.

The later thus hire someone to implant into the subconcsious of the heir of Fischer industries’ CEO the idea of disintegrating his father’s company (the father passes away in the beginning of the movie).

Now, the antitrust geek that sleeps in me cannot help but thinking that in XXVth century competition law, agencies will use this form of remedial intervention as an alternative/supporting device to conventional divestiture orders.

And surely XXVth century lawyers will look for a concept to denote for this new type of remedies. I’ll likely be dead and this blog will no longer exist (yet who knows?), but here’s my early take: why not talk of “chimerical remedies“, besides structural and behavioral remedies.

An alternative would be “Freudian remedies”.

If you have other ideas, please comment on this post.

Written by Nicolas Petit

18 December 2012 at 5:19 pm

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