European Competition Authorities Take Aim at Internet Giant

The European Commission has expanded its proceedings against an internet company on account of possible infringements of antitrust law. The latter is said to have potentially abused its dominant market position.

The EU competition authorities are accusing the internet firm of having potentially abused its dominant market position with its operating system for smartphones and thus infringed competition law / antitrust law. The allegation is that the company imposes restrictions on smartphone manufacturers and mobile network operators, for example by requiring that some of the firm’s applications be pre-installed.

In doing so, it is said that consumers are being deprived of a wider variety of apps and services as well as that this is curtailing innovations by other companies. The competition watchdog argues, however, that small providers can only compete effectively if fair conditions apply. Thus, the company, which rejects these accusations, may be in breach of antitrust laws. The European Commission has called on the firm to cease the business practices in question to prevent harm or loss to consumers and competitors. If the company fails to comply with this request and should the allegations that have been made be confirmed and substantiated, it could be faced with fines amounting to up to ten percent of its annual turnover.

Abuse of a dominant market position or other violations of competition or antitrust law may be severely dealt with, as it is in the interests of consumers and market operators alike to ensure diverse and effective competition. Accordingly, infringements of Germany’s Gesetz gegen Wettbewerbsbeschränkungen (GWB) [Act Against Restraints of Competition] can give rise to related penalties.

In order to avoid time-consuming and costly legal disputes, one ought to consult lawyers who are versed in the fields of competition law and antitrust law early on. They are able to assess whether there are concerns from the perspective of antitrust law and help to overcome any existing difficulties. If claims have already been filed against a company due to alleged violations of antitrust law, competent lawyers can assume responsibility for fending off these claims as well. Conversely, it is also possible to assert claims against companies that have infringed antitrust law or competition law.

GRP Rainer LLP is an international firm of lawyers and tax advisors who are specialists in commercial law. The firm counsels commercial and industrial companies and corporations, as well as associations, small- and mid-sized businesses, self-employed freelancers and private individuals worldwide from offices in Cologne, Berlin, Bonn, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Munich, Stuttgart, and London UK.

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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer. For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.

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