2004 EU Microsoft Decision: Third set of fines (€ 899 million) against Microsoft for non-compliance

Decision adopted under Article 24(2) of Regulation 1/2003.
According to the EU Commission, Microsoft charged unreasonable prices for access to interface documentation for work group servers during a period starting on 21 June 2006 to 21 October 2007. As from 22 October 2007 Microsoft changed its previous conditions, providing for a licence giving access to the interoperability information for a flat fee of €10 000 and an optional worldwide patent licence for a reduced royalty of 0.4 % of licensees’ product revenues. See also Commission MEMO/08/125 and the transcript (on Groklaw) of Neelie Kroes Statement.

SUBITO Dokumentenlieferdienst: Neue Bedingungen

Nach einem Heise Bericht vom 24.02.2008:
- der Endkunde kann das per E-Mail-Lieferung gekaufte Dokument "ansehen und zweimal ausdrucken";
- spätestens einen Monat nach dem Datum der Lieferung läuft das elektronische Dokument zudem unwiderruflich ab "und ist nicht mehr zugänglich";
- jede Seite des Ausdrucks wird mit einem Wasserzeichen versehen;
- Subito explizit angeschlossene Lieferbibliotheken dürfen Kopien nur noch über den Dienst ausliefern, und nicht mehr etwa über andere übliche Leihverkehrsordnungen;
- Preise für den elektronischen Versand wurden auf mindestens 7,75 Euro angehoben;
Subito führt bei den PDF-Kopien auf Lizenzbasis im Gegensatz zu den auf minimal 6,50 Euro festgesetzten Fax- oder Postlieferungen keine Kopiervergütung mehr an die VG Wort ab;
- Subito und die Lieferbibliotheken sollen innerhalb von 18 Monaten die Möglichkeiten schaffen, binnen Jahresfrist höchstens zehn Kopien aus einer einzelnen Zeitschrift pro Institution (oder auch Kundenbibliothek, Campus) zu versenden. Über die betroffenen Journale soll ein Ausschuss von Subito und den Verlagen entscheiden.
Armin Talke, Mitglied der DBV-Rechtskommission, hat inzwischen ein ausführliches Paper zu Auslegungsschwierigkeiten beim Kopienversand (§ 53a UrhG) veröffentlicht.

Neelie Kroes: 2008 Competition Policy challenges...

Speech delivered at the 100th meeting of the OECD Competition Committee. Rather vague, really. Among others, the issue of the more economic approach to art.82 was not touched on. But, perhaps, it is still coming..

ECJ ruling on responsibility for antitrust infringement

Case C-280/06 Autorità Garante della Concorrenza e del Mercato v. Ente tabacchi italiani .
The questions referred for a preliminary ruling by the Consiglio di Stato related to an infringement committed by an entity which then underwent a legal and organisational change (measures taken by the legislature in view of the entity's privatisation). The Court makes clear that:
- " When ... an entity infringes competition rules, it falls, according to the principle of personal responsibility, to that entity to answer for that infringement;
- "As to the circumstances in which an entity that is not responsible for the infringement can nevertheless be penalised for that infringement, it must be held first that this situation arises if the entity that has committed the infringement has ceased to exist, either in law... or economically; otherwise "undertakings could escape penalties by simply changing their identity through restructurings, sales or other legal or organisational change";
- ..."when an entity that has committed an infringement of the competition rules is subject to a legal or organisational change, this change does not necessarily create a new undertaking free of liability for the conduct of its predecessor that infringed the competition rules, when, from an economic point of view, the two are identical";
- "where two entities constitute one economic entity, the fact that the entity that committed the infringement still exists does not as such preclude imposing a penalty on the entity to which its economic activities were transferred.."; In particular, "applying penalties in this way is permissible where those entities have been subject to control by the same person within the group and have therefore, given the close economic and organisational links between them, carried out, in all material respects, the same commercial instructions".

Antitrust/IP: FTC challenges settlements with generic drug manufacturers on Provigil

The suit has been filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia against Cephalon. According to the Commission, Cephalon, faced with threat to its Provigil monopoly, paid more than $200 million to generic drug companies to abandon their patent challenges and forgo entry into the market until April 2012. As Cephalon's CEO allegedly put it shortly after entering these settlements: "We were able to get six more years of patent protection. That's $4 billion in sales no one expected".
The FTC is clearly taking the issue very seriously, see also here.

Consultation publique sur la procedure d'engagements lancée en France

Le Conseil de la Concurrence a publié un projet de communiqué de procédure relatif aux engagements, sur lequel une consultation publique à été ouverte (jusqu'au 15 mars 2008).

Microsoft and standards setting: yet another antitrust issue?

This might be the case according to the Wall Street Jounal, 8 Feb. 2008, in connection with the alleged attempts by Microsoft to pressure countries to ratify the Office Open XML (OOXML) file standard within the ISO (International Organization for Standardization).

At the intersection between copyright and trademark law: Federal Court of Australia on Polo/Lauren's embroidered polo player logo

It would seem rather obvious that firms should not be entitled to control the market for their products "only" by devising a label or a package in which copyright will subsist. This principle has been clearly spelled out by the Federal Court of Australia in The Polo/Lauren Company L.P. v Ziliani Holdings Pty Ltd [2008] FCA 49 (5 February 2008). The issue involved an injunction to restrain importation and sale of clothing bearing embroidered polo player logo without licence of the owner of copyright, whereas the logo was lawfully embroidered in country of manufacture with licence of owner of copyright. The Court ruled, relying on s 44C Copyright Act (socalled exception of a non-infringing accessory) that the the importer is entitled to engage in parallel importing of those goods into Australia. In particular, the embroidered polo player logo was not primarily a decorative feature, but "a symbol to convey that the clothing was made by the Ralph Lauren design or fashion house. It is a ‘signature’ or label conveying that information of the garment’s provenance" in the meaning of subsection 10(1) Copyright Act.

Balance between Antitrust and IP Laws: Drug Patent Settlement Agreements

The FTC filed a brief as amicus curiae with the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit on 25 January 2008 urging to reverse a district court's decision that immunized from antitrust laws a pharmaceutical patent settlement agreement. In the case at bar, a patent holder paid a potential rival $400 million to abandon competition and stay off the market. According to the FTC, the patent holder "purchased the exclusion that the patent could not provide". The agreement did not represent the patent holder's exercise of its right to exclude and therefore the patent did not immunize the agreement from antitrust scrutiny.

Algorithms and competition

M. Vestager, here . Large friendly letters? "It's true that the idea of automated systems getting together and reaching a...