Short Reads

Court of Justice refers case against Infineon in relation to smart card chips cartel back to the General Court

Court of Justice refers case against Infineon in relation to smart ca

Court of Justice refers case against Infineon in relation to smart card chips cartel back to the General Court

01.10.2018 EU law

On 26 September 2018, the European Court of Justice partially set aside the judgment of the General Court in the smart card chips cartel case. Infineon had argued that the General Court wrongfully assessed only five out of eleven allegedly unlawful contacts. The Court agreed with Infineon insofar as its argument related to the amount of the fine imposed. Philips had also appealed the General Court judgment but that appeal was dismissed in its entirety meaning that the Court of Justice upheld the European Commission's decision and fine.

In September 2014, the Commission imposed fines on Infineon, Philips, Renesas and Samsung for their alleged involvement in a single and continuous infringement in the market for smart card chips. According to the Commission, the companies coordinated their pricing behaviour through bilateral contacts on pricing, production capacity, future market conduct and customers from 2003 to 2005.

Infineon (and, separately, Philips) appealed the Commission's decision before the General Court. In its appeal, Infineon specifically requested the General Court to examine whether it actually participated in the infringement at issue and, if so, the precise extent of that participation. It argued that the Commission had violated the principle of proportionality by setting the amount of the fine without taking into account the small number of bilateral contacts in which Infineon participated. On 15 December 2016, the General Court dismissed the appeals in their entirety [see our January 2017 Newsletter].

In its action before the Court of Justice, Infineon complained that the General Court examined only five of the eleven allegedly unlawful bilateral contacts whereas Infineon had disputed all those contacts. Infineon argued that this incomplete and selective judicial review was unlawful and resulted in an insufficient review of the fine.

The Court of Justice first ruled that the General Court did not err by establishing an infringement on the basis of only a limited number of contacts. However, the Court sided with Infineon as regards the – insufficient – assessment of the amount of the fine. The Court recalled that EU courts have unlimited jurisdiction with regard to the assessment of fines. The courts must therefore examine all factual and legal arguments raised on appeal which seek to show that the amount of the fine is not proportional to the gravity or the duration of the infringement. One relevant factor that must be taken into account in this context is the number and intensity of the incidents of anticompetitive conduct.

The Court of Justice ruled that the General Court should have assessed Infineon's pleas on the proportionality of the fine imposed in relation to the number of contacts involving Infineon. It therefore referred the case back to the General Court for it to examine whether the Commission established the six contacts on which the General Court had not yet adjudicated.

This article was published in the Competition Law Newsletter of October 2018. Other articles in this newsletter:

1. EFTA Court offers guidance for assessing national limitation periods for follow-on damages claims
2. Dutch Trade and Industry Appeals Tribunal annuls mail market analysis decision
3. UK Court upholds fine against Ping for online sales ban

Team

Related news

02.04.2020 NL law
ACM played high stakes and lost: no more fixed network access regulation

Short Reads - The ACM’s failure to meet the requisite standard of proof has led to the fixed networks of Dutch telecom providers KPN and VodafoneZiggo being free from access regulation. The Dutch Trade and Industry Appeals Tribunal ruled that the ACM had failed to demonstrate the existence of collective dominance, and that KPN and VodafoneZiggo would tacitly coordinate their behaviour absent regulation.

Read more

26.03.2020 BE law
​I am suffering significant financial losses as a result of the spread of the corona virus. Is there a possibility of State aid?

Short Reads - COVID-19 brings certain questions to centre stage regarding State aid. In this short read, Peter Wytinck, Sophie Van Besien and Michèle de Clerck discuss the possibility of State aid in case of significant financial losses as a result of the spread of the corona virus.

Read more

02.04.2020 NL law
Claims assigned to a litigation vehicle: who needs to prove what?

Short Reads - Two recent decisions from the Amsterdam Court of Appeal have confirmed that litigation vehicles cannot come empty-handed to the court, and should provide documentation regarding the assignments of claims they submit. The Dutch legal system allows companies and individuals to assign their claims to a “litigation vehicle” or “claims vehicle” that bundles those claims into a single action. In its decisions of 10 March 2020, the Court of Appeal ruled that it is up to litigation vehicles to prove that the assignments can be invoked against the debtor. 

Read more

10.03.2020 NL law
De AVG staat niet in de weg aan de verwerking van persoonsgegevens door een toezichthouder tijdens een bedrijfsbezoek

Short Reads - Bedrijven die met toezicht worden geconfronteerd, zijn gehouden op verzoek van een toezichthouder in beginsel alle informatie te verstrekken. Met de komst van de Algemene verordening gegevensbescherming (AVG) is in de praktijk de vraag opgekomen of een toezichthouder bevoegd is om persoonsgegevens die onderdeel uitmaken van de gevraagde informatie te verwerken.

Read more

02.04.2020 NL law
EU competition policy agenda: full to the brim

Short Reads - The European Commission’s competition policy agenda stretches to 2024 and contains plans for many new or revised rules and guidelines. Recent publications, such as the New Industrial Strategy for Europe, shed more light on the Commission’s initiatives and their possible impact on parties from both inside and outside the European Union (EU). These new initiatives include temporary state aid rules to address the effects of the Corona crisis, consultations on the Block Exemption Regulations, and new measures in respect of (primarily) third-country companies.

Read more

05.03.2020 NL law
CBb confirms: no cartel fine, still interest to appeal cartel decision

Short Reads - Companies can challenge a decision establishing that they committed a competition law violation, even if no fine was imposed on them. The CBb – the highest court for public enforcement of cartel cases – recently confirmed that the absence of a fine does not affect a company’s interest to appeal. Consequently, parent companies held liable for a subsidiary’s cartel infringement can still challenge a cartel decision, irrespective of whether fines were imposed on them separately.

Read more

This website uses cookies. Some of these cookies are essential for the technical functioning of our website and you cannot disable these cookies if you want to read our website. We also use functional cookies to ensure the website functions properly and analytical cookies to personalise content and to analyse our traffic. You can either accept or refuse these functional and analytical cookies.

Privacy – en cookieverklaring