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The European Commission has imposed fines totalling over €953 million on participants in a cartel in the automotive bearings sector.
The Commission held that between April 2004 and July 2011, two European companies (SKF and Schaeffler) and four Japanese companies (JTEKT, NSK, NFC and NTN) secretly colluded to co-ordinate their pricing strategy in respect of automotive customers throughout the EEA.
JTEKT received full immunity from fines under the Commission's leniency policy, whilst each of the other companies engaged in the settlement procedure and accordingly benefitted from a 10% fine reduction, in addition to leniency reductions.
The General Court has delivered its judgment in respect of an action by Reagens seeking the annulment of the European Commission’s decision to refuse it access to certain documents relating to the heat stabilisers cartel.
As the addressee of the cartel decision, Reagens requested, but was refused access to, certain documents relating to applications made by two other cartel participants concerning their alleged inability to pay fines.
The Commission further refused to disclose to Reagens its own requests for further information and the undertakings' replies to those requests. The General Court did not consider that the non-confidential versions of the undertakings' initial inability to pay requests and the Commission's standard first request for further information were covered by the exception from disclosure relating to protection of commercial information.
However, the Commission was entitled to conclude that the undertakings' responses to the first questionnaire, the second targeted and specific questionnaires sent by the Commission, and the undertakings' replies to those questionnaires were protected from disclosure.
The European Commission has adopted a new technology transfer block exemption regulation (TTBER) and revised guidelines on the application of Article 101 TFEU to technology transfer agreements. The revised regulation does not make radical changes to the current rules, with the most significant changes having been made to restrictions excluded from the scope of the block exemption.
Specifically, all exclusive grant-back obligations will now fall outside the block exemption, as will clauses allowing the licensor to terminate where a licensee challenges the validity of the licensed technology (unless the licence is exclusive). The new block exemption regulation will apply from 1 May 2014 until 30 April 2026.
This article was written by Paul Stone.
For more information please contact Paul on +44 (0)20 7203 5110 or email@example.com