Thursday February 02, 2017

EU Antitrust Commission Opens Investigations into Asus and Valve

The European Antitrust Commission announced in a press release today that they have opened three separate investigations into anti-competitive practices in e-commerce in the areas of consumer electronics, video games and hotels.

The consumer electronics investigation is looking into whether Asus, Denon & Marantz, Philips and Pioneer have violated EU competition rules by preventing retailers from setting their own prices on their products.

On the video game side the commission is looking into whether Valve, Bandai Namco, Capcom, Focus Home, Koch Media and Zenimax are using "geo-blocking" practices to control what titles users can purchase in different countries within the EU, in violation of the common market.

A lot of the time with the European Commission investigations I get the impression that they are a thinly veiled form of protectionism, as they usually only go after American and other foreign companies, but this one actually names Philips, Focus Home and Koch Media, all European businesses, so maybe it has some merit after all.

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Article 101 TFEU prohibits agreements between undertakings and decisions of associations of undertakings that prevent, restrict or distort competition within the EU's Single Market.

The opening of formal proceedings does not prejudge the outcome of the investigation. It relieves the competition authorities of EU Member States of their competence to apply EU competition rules to the practices concerned.

There is no legal deadline for bringing an antitrust investigation to an end. The duration of an investigation depends on a number of factors, including the complexity of the case, the cooperation of the companies with the Commission and the exercise of the rights of defence.

The consumer electronics and video games investigations announced today are the first following up on some of the issues identified in the Commission's competition sector inquiry on e-commerce.

Discussion