Relaxing whilst doing Competition Law is not an Oxymoron

Archive for the ‘Polls and quizzes’ Category

In brief

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– I watched life –rather heard while working- the European Parliament hearings on the new Commissioner for Competition, Margrethe Vestager. She did so well that I couldn’t help thinking that perhaps she should have been given a more politically decisive portfolio (it also made me compare her with many politicians in my home country, but that’s another story).

– It’s been a while since our last quiz. I offer to pay lunch to whoever is able to tell us what was the new and special method for calculating fines that the General Court says to have used in this case (see in para. 5 the mysterious reference to “the Court’s choice of a methodology that diverges on purpose from the methodology laid down in the 2006 Guidelines”).

– Last Friday the Commission approved the acquisition of Whatsapp by Facebook (on which we had commented here). I’m looking forward to reading the decision, but from the press release I gather that the Commission has significantly refined the approach taken in Microsoft/Skype (e.g. no trace of the “inner circle” argument). Don’t know why that would have been necessary considering that, according to the General Court’s Judgment, that decision was irreproachable…

– Remember our discussion on the Groupe Gascogne Judgments (see here and here)? It has now been published on the Official Journal that Gascogne has introduced a damages action before the General Court…against the General Court: see here.

– If you have a minute (which I guess you do if you are reading this) read Kevin Coates’ new post: Gilding Refined Gold and Painting the Lily

– It is still possible to register to the Competition Day conference within the Brussels Technology Days series of events. I’ll be speaking on a panel discussing the Android proto-case together with Trevor Soames, Thomas Vinje and Neil Dryden. For more info, click here.

Written by Alfonso Lamadrid

7 October 2014 at 6:40 am

The ultimate competition law quiz

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It’s been quite a while since our last quizz (see here, here or here for some of them).

In a recent book review I wrote: “Ask most competition specialists about what a “restriction of competition” is and you will get a surprising variety of theories, and most likely some striking silences“.

So this is an empirical test. The question should be simple for anyone geek enough to read this blog:


The best one paragraph response wins. You can write your definitions as comments to this post. The one who gets the most “likes”/”thumbs up” by October 1st wins (and this includes both the blog’s homepage and the LinkedIn group.

This time we’re raising the stakes: instead of a round of beers, we offer to invite the winner of this quiz (+ a guest) to either lunch, dinner or an open tap of beers.

Low participation confirms my point (that’s a smartass way of turning this into a win-win situation)  😉

Written by Alfonso Lamadrid

20 September 2013 at 3:37 pm

Posted in Polls and quizzes

The Odds of Commission v Google

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A few days ago, a funny post of mine scheduled for publication was deleted by my one-handed friend Alfonso.

With his dysfunctional arm he can’t write. But he certainly can press the erase button.

I will not ressuscitate this post on pain of causing him a heart attack.

But I have decided to write something in the same spirit. After all, we (luckily) don’t live in North Korea. I leave it to our readers to guess what my censored post was about.

So here we go. With the expiration of Commissioner Almunia’s ultimatum on 31 January 2013, journalists were star crazy yesterday.

Habemus papamIt has arrived” said today a popelike Joaquin Almunia, alluding to Google’s proposed settlement package.

Now the question is as follows. In Commission v Google: 

I will try to run more polls of this kind in the future (subject to the prior authorization of my learned co-blogger).

Written by Nicolas Petit

1 February 2013 at 4:30 pm

Competition Plagiarism?

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A few weeks ago we posted a story about the “competition pills” that the Spanish Competition Authority (CNC) is distributing (see here). We remarked the “originality” of this promotional campaign.  Yesterday, one of our readers (thanks, Luca!) posted a comment in which he questions such originality; the comment reads as follows:

“This is scandalous!! Plagiarism!!

They’ve copied the idea, the packaging, the leaflet, the design – literally, everything except the color, red instead of deep blue – from a record by Spiritualized of 1997 – “Ladies and Gentlemen, we’re floating in space”.

Am I the only one old enough to remember this masterpiece?

Here is the cover

Still I’d be curious to know who’s the psychedelic case handler at the CNC who came up with the idea”.

Since our readers’ wishes are our commands, we are launching a quest to find the musically literate CNC official/s who came up with this idea, and we want to interview her/him/them here (about music, copyright and the promotion of competition).

The customary beer tasting reward applies to whoever gives us any information that may help us in our quest.

Written by Alfonso Lamadrid

23 August 2012 at 3:53 pm

Legal films and series

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Many of you are aware about our taste for antitrust videos. In previous posts we commented on “The Informant” and on the OFT’s own production, we awarded Chilling Competition’s Antitrust Oscars, and we brought to you the wonderful classic”The Raid“.  Many of those posts rank high in our list of most visited posts, so there are reasons to believe that you share our “geek” taste for these movies.

Our “Friday Slot” guests also seem to be fans of legal movies.  In the interviews published so far some of them have confessed that legal movies rank among their favorites [e.g. “12 Angry Men” (Eric Gippini Fournier); “12 Angry Men”, “Philadelphia” and “The Verdict” (Johan Ysewyn), or “To Kill a Mockingbird” (Maurits Dolmans)].

The American Bar Association has a list of the 25 Greatest Legal Movies of all times [headed by “To Kill a Mockingbird” and “12 Angry Men”, which reveals that Maurits’, Eric’s and Johan’s taste for movies is not as original as their legal constructions 😉 ] Other websites have posted lists of the top-15 film/TV lawyers in history. The image that oursiders sometimes have from our job is often dictated by these movies and these characters. Whether or not they portray reality is generally a contentious issue. I went to Harvard Law School thinking that it would be like in “Legally Blonde” (I even died my hair and let it grow…here is the evidence), but it actually was closer to the scary “The Paper Chase“. Actually, it didn’t ressemble any of them. But it didn’t ressemble “The Social Network”s constant drunk partying neither..

Nowadays the good stuff has moved from the big screens to the TV. There’s a surprising number of “legal” TV series (see here for a list).  Not having ever watched most of them, I have to confess that I’ve a clear favorite: The Good Wife. For the past couple of months watching an episode (sometimes a couple, sometimes even one or two more…) has been a late-night vice routine. I know for a fact that other competiton lawyers are going through the same problem right now with this series. I even know someone in the US who called in sick the day the last season was released in DVD and watched the whole thing in one day. Maybe that was a bit too much, but you really should watch it. I’m now done with all available episosed and opened to suggestions for a new series. Anyone?

Written by Alfonso Lamadrid

16 May 2012 at 6:42 pm

Yet another (good) antitrust quiz

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Antitrust quizzes seem to be the flavor of the day.

In the past few weeks we posted a few on this blog (see here, here, and here). Today we have just learnt that the European Commission has launched its own competition law quiz:

Nice initiative from the Commission! (many thanks to our friend Isabel Yglesias for pointing us to it)

It’s actually quite well done. It has 3 levels: “Basic (general audience); Advanced (students in competition law); Expert (advanced students in competition law and practitioners)” (as if all practitioners had expert knowledge…).

We would love to arrange a competition among our readers to see how many of you get 10/10, but we have no way of verifyng any results you would report, and since most of you are also lawyers we can’t just trust you..

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P.S. We can’t give you more details for the moment, but you should know that a sort of competition law quiz will be an important part of the competition law conference of the century, decade, year, month? the first Chillin’ Competition conference.

The program is now half baked, and we will soon start contacting the speakers/participants we have in mind. We will be giving you further information in the coming days.

Written by Alfonso Lamadrid

6 March 2012 at 5:12 pm

Posted in Polls and quizzes

Concurrence’s Antitrust Oscars

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In spite of its title, this post is not related to our “Antitrust Oscars” series (see here, here, here and here).

My co-blogger Nicolas is, like Apple and Microsoft, on a complaining mood. Last week he was whining about how in the past few weeks I would (allegedly) not have complied with all of my blog-related duties. Nonetheless, he was smart enough to hide the criticism behind an excessive panegyrical of both my firm and myself, so now I feel I need to give something in return. That’s why I’m committed to give a last push to his campaign for Concurrence’s Antitrust Writing Awards:

Some weeks ago we referred here to this most interesting initiative by the Institute of Competition Law and George Washington Law School, and announced that Nicolas had been selected as one of the candidates for the award in the category of academic articles. Since we launched our online-campaign Nicolas’ piece has reached the first position both in terms of rating (4.44/5) and in terms of number of votes (with more than twice as many votes as the runner up) (temporary results are available here).

As you know, a French movie featuring a funnily looking French chap (see pic above) was the big winner at the Oscar ceremony held last Sunday. I never thought I would say this, but here it goes: please help the French winning streak continue! (Come on; think that it’s highly unlikely that any Frenchman will be winning anything else in the coming decades near future).

You can vote for Nicolas’ piece on “Credit Rating Agencies, the Sovereign Debt Crisis and Competition Law” by clicking here.

Something no one knows about this piece is that it has inspired a complaint lodged by a member of the Italian Parliament with the Italian Antitrust Authority (see here).

The usual incentive applies: if Nicolas wins, all those writing a comment to this post saying that they have voted for him will receive a free beer by courtesy of the candidate.

The awards ceremony will take place on Washington D.C on 27 March. If Nico wins, that moment could recreate another well-remembered landmark in the history of cinema: “Mr Petit goes to Washington” (see capture of the film below) 😉

(Thanks to Susana Rodríguez Sogo for assisting with the photo-editing!)

Written by Alfonso Lamadrid

28 February 2012 at 12:01 am

Antoine Winckler’s Quiz

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Competition law quizzes are getting popular:

The International Committee of the ABA’s Antitrust Section is apparently running an Antitrust Trivia (thanks to Vera Sopeña for the pointer!)

As a follow-up of our quizz on the history of competition lawAntonie Winckler has proposed a quizz of his own to our readers:

He remembers having read somewhere that Baldus de Ubaldis  – the greatest legal thinker of the Middle Ages – considered that the law against boycotts and restraint of trade was part of natural law, and thus pre-empted postive law and was universally applicable. Anybody finding the right quote is welcome to share a beer with Antoine.

As you see, the “beer reward” is becoming a tradition here 😉

Written by Alfonso Lamadrid

16 February 2012 at 8:18 pm

And the answer is….

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 Las Siete Partidas, passed by Alfonso X, El Sabio (1265) [Alfonso “The Wise”].

Congrats to Tatiana Siakka, David Mamane, Andrey, and Lorenzo Climenti!  (Nico: you can afford 4 beers, right?)

Here is an explanation extracted from their answers:

Title 7 within Law 2 of the Fifth Partida, entitled “Of the shortages and bids that merchants create between themselves through oats and guilds” was the legal provision prohibiting traders from engaging in price-fixing and output restriction.

The Code was elaborated in Spain (Castile), but it was in force in Latin America until the modern codification movement (1822–1916). Until the beginning of the 19th century, they were even in effect in the parts of the United States, such as Louisiana, California or Nevada, that had previously belonged to the Spanish empire and used civil law. Furthermore, they served as the legal foundation for the formation of the governing juntas that were established in both Spain and Spanish America after the imprisonment of King Fernando VII during the Peninsular War.

Below you will find a scanned version of the relevant part by courtesy of José Luis Buendía.

[The text appears in Spanish and Latin. Since the short bios available at Brussels-based law firms suggest that all competition lawyers are fluent in practically every language, we trust that many of you will be able to understand it 😉 ]

P.S. Could someone please edit wikipedia´s entry for History of Competition Law?

Written by Alfonso Lamadrid

26 January 2012 at 6:27 pm

OFT goes to Hollywood

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Remember our Antitrust Oscars?

We have a new and excellent candidate for the category of “Best Film by a Competition Authority”.

Check out the Compliance Film that the OFT has just released and which includes a dramatised dawn raid and special guest appearances from the likes of Prof. Richard Whish. A cool initiative within the OFT´s wider compliance project.

(Thanks to Christopher Brown and Luis Ortiz Blanco for drawing our attention to it!).

And coming soon to a blog near you…we have a truly excellent film in the pipeline with very special actors and a very special director. We´ll post it here as soon as we can overcome some technical issues.

PS. For those of you who haven´t already heard, Damien Neven (former Chief Economist at DG Comp) is joining Charles River Associates.  Stay tuned, there might just be some more related news coming up soon.

Written by Alfonso Lamadrid

29 June 2011 at 8:36 pm