Relaxing whilst doing Competition Law is not an Oxymoron

Archive for January 2013

A nickname for Commissioner Almunia

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People like giving nicknames to our Competition Commissioners. 

The trend probably started with Super Mario (Monti) (see image above); it continued with Steely Neely (Kroes); now, the US Federal Trade Commission itself refers to Joaquín Almunia as Lucky Nahmoodia.

As noted by Simon on a comment to this post, the transcript of Chairman Leibowitz’s press conference in relation to the end of investigations on Google (p.3) reads as follows:

[W]e talk to the Europeans fairly often, I actually spoke to Lucky Nahmoodia, who runs …, this morning. We have great respect for the work they’re doing and I think they are making progress in their negotiations with Google.

Lucky Namoohdia sounds like a Star Wars name to me, but we could get used to it…

[I feel simpathy for whoever is responsible for these transcripts; I myself am currently having interesting issues with a voice recognition software…]

Written by Alfonso Lamadrid

14 January 2013 at 12:51 pm

Posted in Jokes

‘Not-so-mainstream’ pending cases (I)

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I am coming off the bench to replace Alfonso (fans do not worry: it is all temporary, and the All-Star blogger will be back and kicking very soon!).

When he asked me to prepare a post, I thought it would be a good idea to write on pending cases before EU courts with which our readers are maybe less familiar, but that raise most interesting issues nonetheless. Those who know me will not be surprised to know that it is once again all about electronic communications.

Today’s post is on a reference from a preliminary ruling coming from a Dutch court (Case C-518/11), that I find most intriguing. According to the information found on the website of the Court, the hearing took place on 22 November 2012.

The Gerechtshof te Amsterdam submitted a list of eight (very detailed) questions. It seems that the municipality of Hilversum included a ‘tariff-limiting clause’ when it sold its cable television activities to a third party. This factual scenario raises important questions relating to the scope of the Regulatory Framework for electronic communications and others relating to the scope of Article 101 TFEU.

  • Scope of the Regulatory Framework: The Dutch court asks whether the provision of cable television services to end-users is subject to the Regulatory Framework and whether the fact for the municipality to cap retail tariffs is compatible with the sector-specific regime. This question is relevant not so much because of the (predictable) outcome but because it shows that the artificial content/network divide found in the Regulatory Framework is plain impracticable in the current technological landscape.
  • Scope of Article 101(1) TFEU: Is it contrary to Article 101(1) TFEU to impose tariff-related conditions when selling a business? Because the seller in this case is a municipality, an array of sub-questions come to mind. Is the municipality engaged in an economic activity when imposing such conditions? Is this conduct contrary to ‘the obligation of Union loyalty’ (as drafted in the questions)? This set of questions is probably more interesting from a substantive perspective, at least so because the chances of an unexpected outcome are probably higher.

Another post on another not-so-mainstream case will follow soon!





Written by Alfonso Lamadrid

11 January 2013 at 7:35 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Missing in action

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We are a disgrace:

Nico is missing in action in some lost island, and I’m on forced semi-vacation in Spain due to a humerus fracture provoked by a humorous ski fall, and unable to do anything but bad jokes (see above) and read (on the antitrust-related side I’ve particularly enjoyed the two in the pic above -Interop, and Antitrust and the bounds of power- which I would recommend you to read whenever you injure yourself..).

I’m telling you this because since Nico and I are unfit (that is, even more) to take care of the blog as we’d like, our friend Pablo Ibanez Colomo (LSE) has accepted to write some stuff in the coming days. We’re grateful to him, even if we know there’s a risk that you’ll like his posts more than ours! 😉

Write to you soon!

Written by Alfonso Lamadrid

11 January 2013 at 6:07 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Google reaches a settlement with the FTC

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FTC vs Google

Google has reached a settlement with the FTC!   Details can be found here.

The settlement concerns the licensing practices of some key technologies to competitors and the management of campaigns by online advertisers. The investigation into Google’s search-related practices, on the other hand, has been closed (by a 5-0 vote).

According to the press release, Google’s ‘Universal Search’ and other changes can be ‘plausibly justified as innovations that improved Google’s product and the experience of its users’.

We are all wondering the impact this outcome will have on the (European) Commission’s ongoing investigation (although we presume this did not catch DG Comp’s officials by surprise).

Btw, I will be speaking soon about antitrust and search engines, so these developments come in handy (not sure if that’s the right expression considering that for a couple of months I’ll be a one handed man..)

Written by Alfonso Lamadrid

4 January 2013 at 1:16 pm

Posted in Uncategorized