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ASICS’ ONLINE SALES RESTRICTIONS CONFIRMED AS ILLEGAL BY DUESSELDORF HIGHER REGIONAL COURT

On 5 April 2017, the Duesseldorf Higher Regional Court confirmed the August 2015 decision of the Federal Cartel Office finding that it is anti-competitive and therefore illegal to impose on distributors a general prohibition on the use of online price comparison portals. The Cartel Office had faulted Asics over imposing the following restrictions on its … Continue Reading

German Court sends online sales bans to ECJ

On 25 April, the German Higher Regional Court in Frankfurt filed a request for a preliminary ruling with the European Court of Justice (“ECJ”) in a case that turns on the ability of branded goods manufacturers to protect the reputation of their brands by controlling online trade. Coty is suing one of its authorised distributors, … Continue Reading

UK CMA Opens Investigation into Online Sales of Licensed Sport and Entertainment Merchandise

The UK Competition and Markets Authority (“CMA”) has opened an investigation into suspected anticompetitive arrangements relating to online sales of licensed sport and entertainment merchandise and other consumer products. The opening of the investigation follows raids on December 1, 2015 at the headquarters of Trod Limited, a UK retailer of toys and sports products (doing … Continue Reading

French probe of Adidas’ online sales restrictions closed

On 18 November 2015, the French competition authority announced that it had closed its investigation into Adidas’ online sales terms, after the company changed the terms. The French competition authority carried out this investigation in cooperation with the German Federal Cartel Office (the Bundeskartellamt). Adidas operates a selective distribution system under which distributors were prohibited … 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

UK CMA launches Article 101 investigation into fashion markets

The UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has opened an investigation into suspected anti-competitive arrangements in UK fashion markets.  Little information has been released, but the case was opened on 24 March 2015 into anticompetitive agreements and concerted practices under Chapter I of the UK Competition Act 1998 and/or Article 101 of the Treaty on … Continue Reading

Retail distribution in Africa: challenge and opportunity

The economy in Sub-Saharan Africa continues to grow.  A handful of the 10 fastest growing economies in the world are in Africa, it has the world’s greatest population of young people and the number of middle class consumers – estimated to be 350 million – is booming. With such a growing, promising market, comes great … Continue Reading

Top 10 global consumer trends in 2015

Top 10 global consumer trends in 2015 Euromonitor recently published its yearly report on the “Top 10 Global Consumer Trends in 2015”. The trends will certainly capture the eye of luxury brands, and we pick up on some points of particular interest. Consumers now see “consumption as a route to progress” according to Euromonitor International. … Continue Reading

Germany’s Federal Cartel Office restricts duration and scope of radius restrictions on branded goods manufacturers

On 3 March 2015, the FCO issued a decision against the operator of the factory outlet centre Wertheim Village, VR Franconia GmbH. The operator of the outlet centre included a non-compete radius clause in its lease agreements, prohibiting most of the 100 tenants (branded goods manufacturers) from opening shops in other factory outlet centres or … Continue Reading

Mirror, mirror on your app…The cosmetics industry embraces digital

L’Oreal launched its Makeup Genius app earlier this year. It’s been lauded as one of the best attempts at enabling users to apply make-up virtually, through a smartphone or other device. This has prompted a number of market observers to ask whether the colour cosmetics industry is on the cusp of a digital revolution, and … 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

Is it time for a fashionable smartwatch?

The launch of the Apple Watch on 9 September has prompted a discussion of how wearable devices can bridge the gap between technology and fashion, and how this developing market might affect traditional luxury brands. Smartwatches represent a fast-growing market.  In 2013, the market volume of the global smartwatch industry was USD 700 million: experts … Continue Reading

Michael Kors, Costco settle “Bait and Switch” Mother’s Day ad dispute; raises question of best brand policing strategy

With Contributions From Matthew Verdin Michael Kors, LLC and Costco Wholesale Corp. recently settled a trademark infringement lawsuit that the famous fashion designer company filed against the warehouse giant over a nationwide “bait and switch” ad campaign for Mother’s Day.  The lawsuit raises the question of how brand owners can best police their trademarks for … 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

The protection of brands in Europe using a Community Registered Design – Trunki v Kiddee

“Copycat” branding — where a lesser known brand mimics the appearance or design of a more successful or well-known brand — is becoming more common. Copycat products will often undercut the better known brand on pricing, in order to attempt to access a piece of the market captured by that brand. Designers looking to use … 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

Swiss court refuses to scrub toothpaste fine for import bans

Prices of branded goods in Switzerland have historically been higher than in neighboring countries.  As a result, measures that impede parallel imports into Switzerland have long been seen as preventing Swiss customers from purchasing cheaper products from the European Union (EU), and have triggered complaints to the Swiss competition authority (ComCo).  ComCo has actively investigated … 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

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

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
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