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Two-Minute Recap Of Competition Law Matters Around The Globe – August 2022 – Cartels, Monopolies

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Sony PlayStation is being sued for £5 billion in a class
action in the UK over excessive pricing

Sony PlayStation is accused of abusing its dominant position by
overcharging millions of gamers as well as developers and
publishers for six years. It is alleged that Sony made people
overpay for its products and services by charging 30% commission on
each digital game and add-on content sold through Sony’s
console or the PlayStation Store since August 2016. According to
the legal action, damages per individual are estimated to vary
between £67 and £562.

Tidal wave for digital markets in Asia and Oceania

  • In line with recent trends, competition authorities throughout
    the world are taking the reins in their hands to keep up with the
    rapid changes in the digital economy. In a case that reminds us of
    Google’s troubles with publishers in France, New
    Zealand’s Commerce Commission has decided to allow news
    publishers to collectively negotiate with Meta and Google about
    displaying news content.

  • Meanwhile, Australia’s Competition and Consumer
    Commission launched an inquiry concerning social media services,
    especially focusing on the supply of said services and advertising
    on social media platforms. The Australian authority noted that this
    is the sixth instalment of its five-year digital platform services

  • In Asia, Korea’s Communications Commission launched an
    investigation to determine whether Google, Apple and One Store
    violated the law by barring third-party payment providers in their
    application marketplaces. The authority will conduct its assessment
    to decide if they forced a specific payment method on users.

  • The authorities in Korea have not stopped there, as the public
    prosecutor raided Naver, an e-commerce platform, with regards to
    criminal allegations that it abused its dominance by preventing
    real estate information providers from selling data to its main
    competitor. It has been noted that Korea’s Fair Trade
    Commission (KFTC) fined Naver EUR 776,000 in September 2020 for
    including exclusivity clauses in its contracts with real estate
    content providers, thus preventing them from working with competing
    platforms. KFTC filed a criminal complaint with the public
    prosecutors in November 2021 as requested by the Ministry of SMEs
    and Startups. 

LPG cartel in Brazil

Brazil’s Administrative Council for Economic Defense
(CADE) has concluded its investigation regarding allegations of
price fixing and market allocation between LPG distributors. The
investigation into the cartel was initiated by state prosecutors
back in 2009, and CADE launched its investigation in 2016 after
obtaining information that was seized during dawn raids conducted
by the police in 2010. It should be noted that while CADE fined
three companies over EUR 122 million, six other companies had
already reached a settlement with the authority after the
investigation was launched. Furthermore, 11 individuals were
sanctioned by the authority for their role in the cartel.

U.S. DoJ and Bundeskartellamt’s concerns abort $987
million MAERSK deal

Container giant China International Marine Containers has
abandoned its plan to acquire Maersk Container Industry, a
specialist in refrigerated box manufacturing, following the U.S.
Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division’s plan to sue
to block the proposed acquisition. The DoJ, working together with
Germany’s Bundeskartellamt, considers that the deal would
have generated excessive market concentration, potentially leading
to higher prices, lower quality and poorer innovation, as it would
put 90% of the world’s reefer container production in the hands
of Chinese state-controlled enterprises.

WhatsApp may face investigation in India due to its privacy

The Delhi High Court has held that WhatsApp must face a full
abuse of dominance investigation by the Competition Commission of
India (CCI) over the changes made in 2021 in the privacy policy of
the instant messaging application. The CCI argued that the new
privacy policy would enable WhatsApp to collect excessive amounts
of consumer data, which may result in the use and sharing of data
in an anti-competitive context. WhatsApp, together with its parent,
Meta, have filed a challenge to dismiss the CCI probe.

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