There were a number of significant events in Danish competition law in Autumn 2018. For example, one of Denmark's most significant abuse of dominance cases ended following the High Court of Western Denmark's issuance of its final decision. Further, the Competition Appeals Tribunal confirmed that Swedish pharmaceutical distributor CD Pharma AB had abused its dominant position and a widely discussed gun-jumping case was finally decided after a preliminary ruling from the European Court of Justice.
The Competition Appeals Tribunal recently rendered a decision in a case concerning the possible coordination of conduct regarding industry standards in the roofing felt business. The tribunal remitted the case to the Competition Council for renewed assessment because of an insufficient by object assessment. The so-called 'by object box' has been widely debated among legal professionals in Denmark and the rest of the European Union.
The legality of consortium agreements under competition law has been widely debated in recent years. The Maritime and Commercial High Court recently rendered a much-anticipated judgment on this subject and repealed the competition authorities' 2015 and 2016 decisions in a case concerning a consortium agreement between two companies regarding their joint bid on a public tender for road marking work.
One of Denmark's biggest abuse of dominance cases is coming to an end following the High Court of Western Denmark's issuance of its final decision, which repealed the Competition Council's decision. However, the Competition and Consumer Authority has sought permission to appeal the case to the Supreme Court. The case shows the importance of economic analysis in abuse of dominance cases. Establishing excessive pricing requires extensive economic analysis and there seems to be a high bar for proof.
The Danish Competition and Consumer Authority recently reported a case of bid rigging in the demolition industry to the State Prosecutor for Serious Economic and International Crime. Six companies and a number of executives from each company have now been charged. This is the first case in Denmark in which the defendants risk imprisonment due to the infringement of competition law. Prison sentences for such offences were introduced in 2013.
In a recent decision, the Supreme Court considered whether the Ministry of Employment was liable for damages regarding replacement holiday. The court found that the Danish authorities had set aside EU law and were liable for damages. However, as the employee's holiday had taken place in 2010 – before the Holiday Act should have been amended – the employee was not entitled to compensation.
The government and all parties in Parliament recently entered into an agreement which entails a major commitment to developing green energy by 2030. The agreement contains a broad range of green initiatives and tax reliefs on electricity which aim to encourage Danish consumers to swap fossil fuels for green electricity. Similarly, the planned modernisation of the heating sector aims to provide both companies and consumers with greener and cheaper heating.
The Danish transmission systems for electricity and natural gas are owned, operated and developed by Energinet, an independent public enterprise owned by the state. The government recently made a new political agreement with a broad number of political parties concerning Energinet's future economic regulation, which means that it will become subject to a revenue framework. With the new agreement, Denmark will follow the same regulatory tendencies seen in other northern and western European countries.
A new executive order, which provides a framework for how grid companies can cover operational costs and return of investment, will be one of the most important tools for such companies going forward. The executive order stipulates the rules governing the prices that electrical grid companies can charge consumers to cover the costs of running the grid and has introduced a five-year regulation period.
Due to a recent agreement between the government and the Danish People's Party, solar and wind power projects will compete for state subsidies for the first time. Under the new subsidy model, the solar power, land windmill or near-shore windmill projects which deliver the highest amount of megawatts for the lowest price will receive subsidies until the budget is allocated. Subsidies will be awarded as a fixed additional charge to the electricity cost.
The government-established Energy Commission recently filed its recommendations for the future energy policy. The commission's report forms part of the policy preparation for the next stage of Denmark's green transition. The central message of the recommendations is that to reach the goal of a low-emissions society by 2050, an ambitious and long-term energy policy must be established by 2020.
The Danish Energy Agency estimates that Denmark must reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by between 32 million and 37 million tons by 2030 to reach its EU climate goals. To this end, the government recently published a new proposal regarding climate and air policy. The proposal contains 38 specific initiatives and mainly addresses the transport sector, agricultural production, shipping and green transitioning in housing and industry.
The Maritime and Commercial High Court recently granted Danish company Dyrup A/S a preliminary injunction without security against Nowocoat International A/S for design and layout infringement of Dyrup's wood protection products. This decision is notable, as the majority of judges found that it was possible for end-consumers to disregard a well-known trademark and recognise a product only by its design, while also confusing it with another product.
The bar for copyright infringement of industrial works in Denmark is rather high. A copy must be very similar to an original work and an original work cannot be of a simple or technical nature. In a recent Commercial and Maritime Court case, the Danish ceramics company Kähler's Omaggio series of vases and candleholders was granted copyright protection and Bovictus A/S's KJ collection was found to infringe Kähler's copyright.
A recent Supreme Court case explored the right of individuals to use their own names, an issue on which the general public has strong opinions. The court stated that where a person has used his or her own name as a trademark and assigned the trademark to a third party, the principle of good marketing practice entails that he or she is then prevented from using the name as a trademark for goods or services similar to those for which the trademark was registered.