August 6, 2014

China Ramps Up Antitrust Enforcement With Second Round Of Raids Of Microsoft Today 

Why you should take notice if you do business in China

By Aymeric Dumas-Eymard

Almost six years to the day after China began enforcing its Antimonopoly Law (“AML”), China’s antitrust authorities are marking the anniversary with a bang as they followed up last week’s raids of U.S. software giant Microsoft with a second round of raids today.

China’s antitrust regulator the State Administration for Industry and Commerce (“SAIC”) announced on its website today that it was following up last week’s raids of Microsoft’s offices in China with new raids of the software giant and its partner in China, Accenture PLC.  SAIC stated that it raided Microsoft offices in Beijing, Liaoning, Fujian and Hubei.  The SAIC also raided the Dalian offices of Accenture, which performs financial work for Microsoft.

Today’s raids follow up on SAIC’s raids of July 28, 2014, in which more than 100 law enforcement officers raided Microsoft offices in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Chengdu.  The antitrust enforcers reportedly questioned Microsoft executives and seized documents, electronic data (including emails) and computers.

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Categories: Antitrust Enforcement, International Competition Issues

    June 16, 2014

    EU General Court Upholds Record 1.06 Billion Euro Antitrust Fine Against Intel

    A View from Constantine Cannon’s London Office

    By Irene Fraile

    The General Court of the European Union has dismissed Intel’s appeal of the European Commission´s decision fining the computer chip manufacturer a record 1.06 billion euros for breaching EU competition law.

    The European Commission imposed the fine on Intel in May 2009, after finding that Intel abused its dominant position in the x86 CPU microprocessors market by attempting to foreclose Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), its main rival, between 2002 and 2007.

    According to the Commission’s complaint, which was filed in 2000, Intel (a) had conditioned rebates to strategically important customers on their agreeing to source all, or almost all, of their supplies from Intel, and (b) had paid certain customers (HP, Acer, Lenovo) to halt, delay or limit the launch of specific products incorporating chips from AMD. The Commission also concluded that Intel had attempted to conceal these anticompetitive practices, which formed part of a long-term strategy to squeeze AMD out of the market.

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    Categories: Antitrust Enforcement, Antitrust Litigation, International Competition Issues

      June 9, 2014

      Container Shipping Companies Seek To Steer Clear Of European Antitrust Shoals

      A View from Constantine Cannon’s London Office

      By Natalia Mikolajczyk and Richard Pike

      Major container shipping companies are attempting to resolve the European Commission’s antitrust probe into their practice of publicly announcing price increases.

      The two biggest players in the container shipping market, A.P. Moeller-Maersk A/S and Mediterranean Shipping Company, hope to end the proceedings without paying any fines, according to news reports.

      Since 2009, container liner shipping companies have been publicly announcing their plans to increase prices, often through press releases available on company websites.  Between 2009 and 2013, carriers on the benchmark Asia-to-Europe route gave advance notice, via press release, of at least 34 rate increases.  These announcements, which were made several times a year, included information on the amount of the rate increase and the date of implementation.

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      Categories: Antitrust Enforcement, International Competition Issues

        May 16, 2014

        European Commissioner Rebuffs German CEO’s Criticisms Of Google Search Engine Settlement

        A View from Constantine Cannon’s London Office

        By Michael Petrides

        The European Commission’s Competition Commissioner, Joaquin Almunia, is strongly defending the EC from charges that its proposed settlement with Google concerning search engine practices would permit Google to expand its dominant market position.

        Commissioner Alumina’s defense of the proposed settlement joins a debate with Matthias Döpfner, CEO of German publishing giant Axel Springer.

        This blog commented in February on Google’s proposed commitments to settle its long-running antitrust case with the EC over its search engine practices. In the meantime, and before the commitments have been “market tested,” Döpfner has launched a scathing attack against the antitrust regulator.

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        Categories: Antitrust Enforcement, International Competition Issues

          May 7, 2014

          DOJ And FTC Will Discuss Whether Bundled Discounts Are A Bundle Of Antitrust Trouble Or A Bundle Of Joy For Consumers

          By Ankur Kapoor[1]

          The Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) and the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice will attempt to unravel the antitrust pros and cons of bundled discounts and other conditional-pricing practices in a one-day public workshop on June 23, 2014.

          Bundled discounts, which are discounts offered for the purchase of a “bundle” of goods or services, exist in many markets.  The undisputed heavyweight champion of bundled discounts is the fast-food value meal, for which you pay some five cents more to get the fries (how can you say no to that?).

          Although most bundled discounts are good for competition because customers love a good deal, there are cases where bundled discounts can exclude competition and, on balance, harm consumers.  For example, when a company has a monopoly in one product market (say, broadband internet service), it can raise prices in that market and then offer a “discount” only to customers that also buy some other product in a competitive market (say, telephone service).  Because customers need the monopoly product and don’t want to turn down the “discount” on that product, they end up buying the second product from the monopolist as well, to the exclusion of other companies competing in the second product market.  Even if competitors may be able to compete in the first product market, that complicates but does not eliminate the anticompetitive potential of the bundled discount.

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          Categories: Antitrust Enforcement, Antitrust Litigation

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