A few thoughts on the non-discriminatory prong of FRAND

Guest post by Carlos Muñoz Ferrandis*

While the Fair and Reasonable prongs of FRAND have been largely discussed, the prong now deserving an exhaustive analysis in the light of latest case law in Germany, UK and US is the Non-Discrimination (ND) prong of FRAND. At the end of the day, the interpretation given to the Non-Discrimination rule will have an impact on the incentives to innovate of the firms participating in the standard setting process and seeking a return on investment via SEP licensing. Hence, a “miss-shape” of this rule has the potential to harm the standardization process in itself.

So, how does one assess whether an offer complies with the commitment to license at non-discriminatory terms?

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Will the CJEU’s Decision in MEO Change FRAND Disputes Globally?

Guest post By Urška Petrovčič*

In April 2018, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) issued a decision in MEO v. Autoridade da Concorrência that clarified the circumstances in which price discrimination would trigger liability under Article 102(c) TFEU.

The dispute arose after MEO—a Portuguese telecommunications company that provides paid television signal transmission service and television content—appealed a decision of the Portuguese competition authority to terminate its investigation of an allegedly anticompetitive licensing practice of the Cooperativa de Gestão dos Direitos dos Artistas Intérpretes ou Executantes (GDA).

Continue reading “Will the CJEU’s Decision in MEO Change FRAND Disputes Globally?”

The Commission seeks feedback to reform the “Vertical Block Exemption Regulation”

The “Vertical Block Exemption Regulation” (“VBER”, Reg. n. 330/2010) and the accompanying Guidelines on Vertical Restraints (“Guidelines”) are now almost nine years old and the European Commission has recently launched an evaluation roadmap to assess whether these documents can still be considered fit or need to be updated in light of the developments occurred over the last years, notably the increased importance of online sales and the emergence of new market players such as online platforms.

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Unwired Planet vs Huawei: the Appeal

Guest post by Vicente Zafrilla Díaz-Marta*

Earlier this week the Court of Appeal of London (Civil Division) published its judgement on appeal against the decision of Justice Birss in the Unwired Planet vs. Huawei case.

A brief summary of the facts and the evolution of the case

Unwired Planet sued Huawei for the infringement of various essential patents (SEPs) needed to implement the 2G, 3G and 4G technologies on the defendant´s devices. These patents had mostly been acquired by Unwired Planet from Ericsson. Other defendants, such as Samsung or Google reached agreements with UP along the proceedings.

Although both parties agreed to sign a license agreement, there were discrepancies concerning its terms, and its conformity or not with FRAND conditions. Continue reading “Unwired Planet vs Huawei: the Appeal”

Does Amazon comply with EU competition law? Some initial thoughts on the new Commission investigation

A few days ago the European Commission opened a preliminary investigation against Amazon to assess whether the American company is engaging in anticompetitive conducts. The Commission is concerned by the dual role of Amazon, which is at the same time owner of the biggest online market place and a seller of its private label products therein. Since Amazon obtains a significant amount of data from the transactions occurring on its market place, DG Comp suspects that Amazon might be using this information to better tailor its private label offer and eventually exclude the other retailers active on the market place. Continue reading “Does Amazon comply with EU competition law? Some initial thoughts on the new Commission investigation”

Is resale price maintenance illegal in China? The Gree case

In competition law, vertical resale price maintenance (“RPM”) agreements between upstream and downstream firms are generally seen as not so severely harmful to competition as horizontal price-fixing agreements among direct competitors. Therefore, whether and to what extent RPM should be prohibited is a question having been answered differently in different jurisdictions. A peculiar situation exists in China, where even in the same country the standard for assessing legality of RPM diverges between administrative and judicial enforcement. While, in administrative enforcement, the responsible enforcement body, the National Development and Reform Committee (“NDRC”) considers RPM illegal “per se”, the Chinese courts have established a more moderate  approach based on the “rule of reason” to assess the legality of such agreements. The latter approach is well exemplified in the Gree case, for which the Guangdong Higher People’s Court has issued a second instance decision earlier this month. Continue reading “Is resale price maintenance illegal in China? The Gree case”

International antitrust cooperation in the age of Trump

It is August, many of you are in vacation or will go soon. Thus, it is the right time for a policy topic, something light but forward-looking to be enjoyed while sipping an ice tea in the middle of your daily Linkedin journey (I know you do that).

International cooperation in antitrust law: where we stand

The topic is international cooperation in antitrust procedures. It is commonly known that competition law is normally national or regional in scope, and no binding international treaties are currently in place. This is true for both substantial and procedural rules and is a major difference from other fields of law such as IP law. Although the OECD and the International Competition Network (ICN) provide for guidelines and recommendations with the aim to harmonise competition law worldwide, these soft law tools are not mandatory for national enforcers. Continue reading “International antitrust cooperation in the age of Trump”

Do data generated by connected cars raise antitrust risks?

In these days the European Commission is particularly active in understanding the possible antitrust impact of data-related conducts. In particular, from a recent policy document published by the Commission and from statements released by DG Comp´s official, it emerges that data generated by automated and connected cars might be considered an “essential facility” from a competition law perspective, at least in the early stage of the industry development, with the consequence that access to these data could not be refused to third parties. Consequently, manufacturers of automated and connected cars which refuse to license these data under fair terms to providers of cars-related services (i.e.: insurers, repairers, leasing companies) might be in breach of article 102 TFEU.

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Blockchain and antitrust: why companies should be cautious

Over the last months blockchain and bitcoin have been the subject of lively public discussions on whether blockchain is the technology of the future and cryptocurrencies are going to be just a speculative phenomenon or something more. However, little has been said so far on blockchain from an antitrust perspective, probably because new technologies require some time to be digested and elaborated by competition authorities. Continue reading “Blockchain and antitrust: why companies should be cautious”

The Italian Competition Authority publishes draft “Guidelines on antitrust compliance” encouraging the adoption of compliance programs

On April 20 the Italian Competition Authority (“AGCM”) launched a public consultation in order to gather comments on its draft “Guidelines on antitrust compliance”.

The document is of huge importance since it provides for the first time the view of the AGCM on how an effective antitrust compliance program should be established and managed. Even more importantly, the draft guidelines show how the Authority will weigh the adoption of compliance programs as a mitigating circumstance at the moment of calculating fines in antitrust investigations. Continue reading “The Italian Competition Authority publishes draft “Guidelines on antitrust compliance” encouraging the adoption of compliance programs”