European and Swedish Antitrust News (July 13, 2020)

Photo: Antonio Borrillo

The Swedish Competition Authority has fined two retailers of design furniture for unlawfully coordinating their sales prices on bent furniture from the brand TON. In other news, the SCA has accepted a commitment on exclusive contracts by fitness aggregator Bruce. The EU Commission has cleared the AMS-OSRAM merger and has prolonged COVID-related State aid rules. An administrative court in Sweden has annulled a sanction fee for breaking cabotage rules.

SCA fines retailers of design furniture for price coordination. Royal Design Group AB (through Rum 21) and Artilleriet Interiors AB through e-mail correspondence unlawfully coordinated their sales prices for bent furniture products from the brand TON during 2016. The companies have accepted the order and consented to pay administrative fines for anti-competitive activities.

SCA accepts Bruce’s proposed commitments on exclusive contracts. After the Patent and Market Court of Appeal had upheld the Swedish Competition Authority’s interim decision to prohibit fitness aggregator Bruce’s exclusive agreements with its fitness studio partners, Bruce has now offered commitments to limit its use of exclusive agreements for two years. The SCA believes this will help a market that is still in an initial phase to develop.

EU Commission clears AMS’ acquisition of OSRAM. The Commission found that the companies’ offerings only overlap in the global supply of optical sensors used in for example consumer electronics and automotive equipment, and the Commission considered that the merged entity would not gain market power due to the combination of the fast evolving products, sufficient other competitors and sophisticated strong buyers. AMS’ major product is sensors used in Apple’s iPhone, whereas OSRAM have a broader portfolio of lightning solutions and sensors.

EU Commission prolongs COVID-related EU State aid rules. A number of temporary guidelines and regulations set to expire at the end of 2020 have been prolonged until the end of 2021, and in some cases until the end of 2023. Additionally, the Commission also adopted permanent changes to the state aid framework to support undertakings in difficulty and job relocations related to the coronavirus.

Administrative court rules against illegal cabotage claim. Swedish law permits foreign haulers to perform the first or final leg of a combined freight transport without being subject to cabotage rules, but such road transport must use the “closest suitable railway station”. A court has now annulled a sanction fee imposed by the Swedish Transport Agency as the Agency had failed to show that another station was more appropriate, and the transport could therefore not be deemed illegal.

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