Latest updates

FCO provides further information on development of B2B internet platform
Fieldfisher (Germany) LLP
  • Competition & Antitrust
  • Germany
  • 19 November 2020

The Federal Cartel Office (FCO) has given further advice on the development of a business-to-business internet platform in a recently published case report on OLF Germany. The FCO's main concerns are the increased transparency between competitors on the platform and the transfer of information to OLF's shareholder Shell.

Guide to international expansion in the education sector – part two
Fieldfisher LLP
  • Franchising
  • International
  • 03 November 2020

School closures, social distancing, remote learning and a reduction in international travel and student exchange for the foreseeable future are all placing a significant strain on businesses in the education sector. Nevertheless, with every crisis comes opportunity. For the education sector, international expansion will be an important way of securing long-term financial viability through the creation of new revenue streams and the development of new edtech innovations.

FCO continues to act against price fixing by manufacturers against distributors: Alhambra guitars
Fieldfisher (Germany) LLP
  • Competition & Antitrust
  • Germany
  • 22 October 2020

Under pressure from the Federal Cartel Office (FCO), guitar manufacturer Alhambra has distanced itself from influencing the selling prices of wholesalers and distributors. The FCO investigated Alhambra on the suspicion that it had exerted pressure on wholesalers and distributors to comply with minimum prices on the German market and urged distributors to raise their retail prices. The FCO has been active in the field of price fixing in recent years and this article provides a historic round-up of cases.

Federal Court of Justice rules on statute of limitations for bid-rigging agreements
Fieldfisher (Germany) LLP
  • Competition & Antitrust
  • Germany
  • 15 October 2020

The Federal Court of Justice recently issued a decision on the statute of limitations for bid-rigging agreements. According to the court, the limitation period does not begin with the conclusion of the contract resulting from the anti-competitive agreement; rather, it begins later with the complete execution of the contract.

Resale price maintenance? Not every discussion on reseller's pricing is illegal
Fieldfisher (Germany) LLP
  • Competition & Antitrust
  • Germany
  • 08 October 2020

In Germany, any form of pressure not to reduce prices below a certain level (including the granting of advantages) is prohibited. However, the Dusseldorf Higher Regional Court has clarified that not every discussion on resale prices is prohibited. Even the termination of a supply relationship by the supplier due to the retailer's sales prices failing to meet its expectations is permissible. However, suppliers should beware: threatening a retailer with non-supply if they fail to enforce a certain price level is illegal.

Podcast: how to prepare your business for franchising
Fieldfisher LLP
  • Franchising
  • United Kingdom
  • 06 October 2020

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the franchise model will play an important role in economic recovery, helping individuals to take their first steps into business ownership, presenting opportunities to established operators to grow their portfolios and enabling brand owners to expand and regain or grow their market share. This podcast explores the key legal considerations for any business which is preparing to franchise.

FCO publishes annual report: focus on high fines and digital economy
Fieldfisher (Germany) LLP
  • Competition & Antitrust
  • Germany
  • 01 October 2020

The Federal Cartel Office (FCO) recently published its Annual Report 2019. This article highlights the topics which the FCO covered in its report, including COVID-19, cartel prosecution, merger control, the digital economy, the energy industry, trade, consumer protection and the Competition Register.

Amazon versus marketplace merchants: FCO is investigating
Fieldfisher (Germany) LLP
  • Competition & Antitrust
  • Germany
  • 24 September 2020

The Federal Cartel Office (FCO) is investigating whether Amazon influences pricing on the Amazon marketplace. According to the FCO, it received numerous complaints from merchants regarding Amazon's conduct. The investigation is one of a number of antitrust measures being undertaken in Germany with regard to powerful platforms (eg, Facebook and Booking.com). The German legislature has also become active and included special provisions for powerful platforms in the upcoming antitrust law.

European Commission's VBER review – what does it mean for franchising?
Fieldfisher LLP
  • Franchising
  • European Union
  • 15 September 2020

The EU Vertical Block Exemption Regulation will expire on 31 May 2022 and the European Commission is reviewing its effectiveness to determine whether it should lapse, its duration should be prolonged or it requires revision to take account of market developments since 2010 (most notably with regard to online sales and online platforms). This article explores the process so far and examines what this review means for franchising.

Federal Court of Justice demonstrates antitrust law limits to data collection through Facebook
Fieldfisher (Germany) LLP
  • Competition & Antitrust
  • Germany
  • 23 July 2020

The Federal Court of Justice recently decided in interim proceedings that Facebook must implement a Federal Cartel Office order of 15 February 2019 regarding the storage and processing of user data with immediate effect until the decision in the main proceedings. This decision is a milestone with respect to antitrust law limits for data collection through internet platforms for which user data is extremely important.

IP Enterprise Court considers interplay of EU Trade Secrets Directive and breach of confidence for first time
Fieldfisher LLP
  • Franchising
  • United Kingdom
  • 02 June 2020

The IP Enterprise Court recently considered the impact of the EU Trade Secrets Directive on the law of breach of confidence – in particular, in the context of ex-employees who sought to franchise their services. The case confirms the limited impact of the directive on the pre-existing law on breach of confidence. However, it also indicates that the directive can be useful in helping to tease out the distinctions between confidential and non-confidential information.

Proposed changes to insolvency regime and what they mean for franchisors and suppliers
Fieldfisher LLP
  • Franchising
  • United Kingdom
  • 05 May 2020

In response to the COVID-19 crisis, the government has stated that new tools will be added to the UK insolvency framework, including a moratorium for companies to give them "breathing space from creditors enforcing their debts while they seek a rescue or restructure". The government is also expected to introduce a moratorium provision, introduce an exclusion of ipso facto clauses and suspend temporarily wrongful trading provisions. This article considers what the changes would mean for franchisors.

FCO guidance on cooperation between competitors during COVID-19 crisis
Fieldfisher (Germany) LLP
  • Competition & Antitrust
  • Germany
  • 30 April 2020

The antitrust authorities have signalled their approval for cooperation between competitors during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. President of the Federal Cartel Office Andreas Mundt and EU Commissioner Margrethe Vestager emphasise that the authorities are open to direct communication. According to Mundt, even after the crisis, cooperation might be necessary to overcome economic difficulties.

Retention of title – how can franchisors and suppliers best protect claims against insolvent companies?
Fieldfisher LLP
  • Franchising
  • United Kingdom
  • 28 April 2020

In the wake of the economic turmoil caused by the COVID-19 crisis, a number of high-profile brands in the leisure and hospitality sectors have entered or will soon enter into formal insolvency processes. Although failure rates among franchises are typically lower than among non-franchised businesses, franchising will not be immune to this trend. It is therefore important that franchisors and suppliers ensure that they have the contractual rights to act quickly and effectively if the need arises.

Recent changes to IP licensing provisions – what franchisors need to know
Fieldfisher LLP
  • Franchising
  • United Kingdom
  • 21 April 2020

In 2019 the new EU Trademarks Directive was implemented in the United Kingdom. As part of this implementation, numerous changes were made to the licensing provisions of the Trademarks Act. This article sets out the changes which are most significant for franchisors, including limited direct enforcement rights for non-exclusive licensees and enhanced direct enforcement rights for exclusive licensees.

Cartel damage claims: Federal Court of Justice corrects understanding of 'affected' goods
Fieldfisher (Germany) LLP
  • Competition & Antitrust
  • Germany
  • 09 April 2020

A recent Federal Court of Justice decision clarifies open questions relating to cartel damages and simplifies the presentation of claims by plaintiffs, as it will no longer be necessary to present and prove that a cartel agreement had an actual impact on an acquisition transaction under the requirements of Section 286 of the Code of Civil Procedure. It is to be expected that the number of cartel damage actions pending before the German courts will continue to increase.

COVID-19: how franchise and distribution networks can respond
Fieldfisher LLP
  • Franchising
  • United Kingdom
  • 31 March 2020

There is no one-size-fits-all plan for how businesses should respond to the COVID-19 crisis. However, this article provides some guidance for businesses which are primarily consumer focused and use franchise and distribution networks to sell their products and services in order to help them to respond to the challenges ahead and hopefully even emerge on a stronger footing than before.

Guide to international expansion in the education sector – part one
Fieldfisher LLP
  • Franchising
  • United Kingdom
  • 17 March 2020

A British education is internationally regarded as the gold standard, as reflected in the dominance of British international schools. Done correctly, the execution of a school's international franchising strategy can become a core asset. However, the most appropriate structure must be determined at the outset, as restructuring an international licence is a complex, costly and time-consuming exercise.

FCO guidance on B2B platforms: launch of digital agricultural platform approved
Fieldfisher (Germany) LLP
  • Competition & Antitrust
  • Germany
  • 27 February 2020

The Federal Cartel Office (FCO) has raised no objections to the launch of 'Unamera', a digital trading platform for agricultural products. During the review, the FCO provided guidance on the competition law implications of digital platforms, specifically with regard to the obligations where shareholders are active in the same market as the platform's users, the market statistics published on these platforms and the risk of price fixing.

Franchising, Brexit and trademarks – what now?
Fieldfisher LLP
  • Franchising
  • United Kingdom
  • 18 February 2020

The UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO) recently published a short, reassuring update about what happens to IP rights during the transition period following the United Kingdom's departure from the European Union. The UKIPO has assured that it will be business as usual, but there are some key points of which franchisors should take note.