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Upcoming European Chemical Restrictions in Apparel Raise Concerns

The European Commission intends to ban the use in apparel of hundreds of Cat. 1A and 1B carcinogenic, mutagenic and toxic for reproduction substances (“CMRs”) within the next year. To do so, the Commission expects to use the so-called “fast-track” procedure to ban CMRs under Regulation 1907/2006 (“REACH Regulation”), instead of the standard procedure for … Continue Reading

FTC Announces First Consent Order With a Retail Tracking Company

The Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) today announced that it has entered into a proposed consent order with Nomi Technologies (“Nomi”), marking the agency’s first action against a retail tracking company.  The announcement comes one year after the agency held a workshop on mobile device tracking in the retail environment.  Although the action may indicate increased … Continue Reading

French Competition Authority adopts broad view on online sales market

On 28 November 2014, the French Competition Authority (“FCA”) dismissed an action against Vente-privee.com (“Vente-Privee”), a French “online sales” (or “online private sales”) site, opened following a complaint from competing e-commerce company, BrandAlley, regarding the alleged imposition of abusive exclusivity clauses in its contracts with its suppliers. Vente-privee.com offers products from multiple  brands to a … Continue Reading

Asics’ German online distribution structure may land in a different place to Adidas

In early 2013, the German competition authority (Bundeskartellamt) opened investigations into the German online distribution systems of sporting goods manufacturers Adidas and Asics.  Both companies operate selective distribution systems, and the Bundeskartellamt took the preliminary view that both companies were imposing on their distributors restrictions regarding online sales that went beyond what was justifiable to … Continue Reading

UK Competition Authority drops investigation into DB Apparel and retailers’ price-fixing allegations

On 13 June 2014, the Competition and Markets Authority (the “CMA”), the Office of Fair Trading’s successor, closed its investigation into allegations of illegal pricing agreements between sports bra manufacturer DB Apparel and three UK department stores.  Having carefully reviewed the evidence in the case, including the representations of the parties concerned, the CMA decided … Continue Reading

Belgian court declares Louboutin trademark invalid in three European countries

Christian Louboutin SA’s registered trademark on red-soled shoes is one of the most litigated intellectual property rights in the fashion industry in recent years.  In a decision on the validity of the trademark in March, the Brussels District Court held against Louboutin and declared the trademark void in Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg. Louboutin had … Continue Reading

Blomqvist v. Rolex: EU Court of Justice says a foreign online sale is enough to stop counterfeits at the EU border; No need to show further evidence of ‘targeting’ EU consumers

A fake ‘Rolex’ sold from a website in China is delivered to Denmark  The case began in January 2010 when Danish resident Mr. Blomqvist purchased a ‘Rolex’ watch from a Chinese online shopping site.  The order and payment were made through an English version of the website.  The seller dispatched the watch from Hong Kong.  … Continue Reading

Successor liability for competition fines in cases of corporate restructuring confirmed by Higher Regional Court in Germany

In 2009, the Bundeskartellamt (FCO) imposed fines of approx. 159.5 million euros on three coffee roasters – Tchibo GmbH, Hamburg, Melitta Kaffee GmbH, Bremen, and Alois Dallmayr Kaffee oHG, Munich – and on six employees for price fixing.  The FCO found that in the period between early 2000 and mid 2008 the coffee roasters had … Continue Reading

Two Polish distributors of luxury watches fined for unlawful price fixing

The Polish Competition Authority’s probe into the luxury watch sector led to a first round of fines this week – two distributors of branded watches were fined the equivalent of ca. EUR 275,000, for fixing with their downstream retailers minimum retail prices for the sale of watches. PHU Jubiler and Anyro&Co retail and wholesale watches … Continue Reading

London Fashion Week: Model Rights?

As models are flown in from across the globe for London Fashion Week, we take the opportunity to remind businesses of their responsibilities towards models under UK employment law. Last summer, we blogged on the movement gathering momentum both in the UK and further afield to ensure that models’ working conditions provide adequate protection. The … Continue Reading

Closing a deal without competition clearance may be expensive

This is the message that the French Competition Authority (FCA) reinforced when it imposed a €4 million fine on Bordeaux-based wine maker Castel Frères group in December 2013 for failing to obtain pre-closing clearance for its acquisition of 6 companies that were part of the rival Patriarche group in 2011. The FCA became aware of … Continue Reading

Italian competition watchdog flexes its muscles against RPM and parallel trade

The Italian Competition Authority (ICA) may be ramping up its enforcement activities regarding branded goods distribution.  On November 26, 2013, it announced that it was launching an investigation into sport nutrition company Enervit’s distribution network.  The ICA alleges that certain arrangements between Enervit and its distributors may be anti-competitive, in particular: Resale Price Maintenance (RPM).  … Continue Reading

No general luxury exemption for internet restraints in selective distribution

Brand owners’ policies on internet distribution continue to sit squarely in the sights of competition authorities in the European Union.  Brand owners’ selective distribution policies that in effect prevent authorized retailers from selling via the internet are of particular interest. The French Supreme Court’s hard line approach in its September 2013 Pierre Fabre Dermo-cosmétique ruling … Continue Reading

Tobacco plain packaging laws: public health as a basis for restricting branding rights

Should a government be allowed to take away branding rights for a product that is widely acknowledged to be unhealthy?  That’s exactly what happened in Australia—in December 2012, Australia’s controversial “plain packaging” tobacco law came into force with the enactment of the Tobacco Plain Packaging Act 2011.  The Act requires cigarette companies to manufacture and … Continue Reading

The campaign against chains – formula retail in San Francisco

“Formula retail” has been a popular buzz phrase in San Francisco this year, as restrictions over formula retail (more commonly known as chain stores) have thwarted such businesses as American Apparel,Chipotle and Jack Spade from opening locations in certain areas of the city. Backlash against chain stores is not a new phenomenon.  Between 1980 and 2000, for … Continue Reading

Growth in the California organic products market matched by increase in consumer litigation

Buoyed by health and environmental concerns, the demand for “organic” and “natural” products is soaring in the United States.  The U.S. organic industry was estimated to be worth over USD 31.5 billion in 2011, an increase of 9.5% from the previous year and nearly double its size from five years earlier.  Given that organic products … Continue Reading

Swiss competition commission closes antitrust investigation into cosmetic products distribution

On 21 October 2013, the Swiss competition authority (WEKO) decided to close its antitrust probe into the distribution of cosmetic products through beauty institutes.  In the course of its investigation, the competition authority identified a number of vertical restraints in the distribution agreements concluded between the manufacturers of the cosmetic products and the beauty institutes … Continue Reading

Germany: No dual pricing between online and off-line dealers

On 28 November 2013, the German Federal Cartel Office (FCO) announced that Gardena, a German-based manufacturer of gardening tools, had made a commitment to not discriminate between online and off-line dealers in its rebate policy. The FCO opened a case against Gardena after receiving complaints from Gardena’s online dealers alleging that its new rebate system … Continue Reading

EU guidelines on cosmetic product safety reports

On 25 November 2013, the European Commission published an Implementing Decision containing guidelines to assist responsible persons to comply with their regulatory obligations under the EU Cosmetics Regulation (EC) No 1223/2009 (Cosmetics Regulation).  The guidelines provide clarity on Annex I of the Cosmetics Regulation, which sets out the minimum requirements for cosmetic product safety reports.  … Continue Reading

Is counterfeit enforcement in New York limited to the supply side?

In April, CovBrands reported that New York City Councilwoman Margaret Chin made a renewed push to pass a bill that would criminalize the purchase of counterfeit goods.  If passed, shoppers caught purchasing counterfeit goods could be fined up to US$1,000 or face a year in prison, provided that the shopper “knew or should have known” … Continue Reading

Ruling on borderline product classification highlights lack of harmonization in the EU

The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) recently delivered its judgment in case C-109/12 concerning the legal status of medical devices.  The CJEU confirmed Advocate General Sharpston’s opinion that Member States may classify the same product differently and confirms previous rulings of the CJEU.  If the ruling is applied to other borderline products, such as cosmetics and … Continue Reading

Fashion label fined after TV broadcast alleges resale price maintenance – yet another RPM case from Denmark

So far this year Miele, SH White Goods and Unilever have fallen foul of Denmark’s Competition and Consumer Authority’s (“DCCA”) enforcement efforts against retail price maintenance (RPM).  On October 30, 2013, fashion brand Vila joined them.  Vila and the DCCA reached a DKK 1.6 million settlement after finding that Vila infringed Section 6 of the Danish … Continue Reading

Andy Rosen and the CFDA launch new initiative to revitalize New York City manufacturing

Andy Rosen, founder of the designer brand Theory, along with the Council of Fashion Designers of America (“CFDA”) and the New York City Economic Development Cooperation are launching the Fashion Manufacturing Initiative to raise funds for New York city factories that are at least two-years-old.  By encouraging American designers to manufacture domestically, this initiative is … Continue Reading
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