Competition: Telefónica appeals General Court judgment on its non-compete agreement with Portugal Telecom

On 21 November 2016, the Official Journal published an action brought by Telefónica SA ("Telefónica") against a General Court ("GC") judgment on its appeal against a Commission decision. The Commission had found that Portugal Telecom ("PT"), the primary telecommunications operator in Portugal, and Telefónica, the primary telecommunications operator in Spain, had agreed not to compete with each other, i.e. agreed to stay out of each other's respective home markets, on the Iberian telecommunications market in breach of competition rules.

Telefónica and PT appealed the Commission's decision to the GC. In June 2016, the GC handed down two judgments in which it dismissed the appeals almost in their entirety. However, the GC found that the Commission should have excluded services not covered by the non-compete clause for the purposes of calculating the fines. Therefore, the Commission had to review the amount of the fines and make a new decision.

In its appeal to the Court of Justice of the European Union, Telefónica claims that the GC infringed its rights of defense and erred in considering its conduct a restriction by object. In the alternative, Telefónica argues that the GC erred in its assessment of the fine to be imposed.
Source: Case C-487/16 P Telefónica v Commission, Official Journal C 428/13, 21 November 2016

Competition (Sweden): Swedish Competition Authority's investigation reveals no abuse of dominance on the pharmaceuticals market

On 18 November 2016, the Swedish Competition Authority ("SCA") published a decision in which it found no abuse of dominance on the pharmaceuticals market.

In December 2015, the SCA received a complaint alleging abuse of dominance by distributors or producers by refusing to supply pharmaceuticals to the complainant company, a wholesaler. According to the complainant, as a result of the refusal to supply, it was compelled to suspend all parallel exports from Sweden.

The SCA's investigation concluded that there was no established contractual relationship between the complainant and the pharmaceutical companies concerning the supply of pharmaceuticals to the complainant for its wholesale distribution business. Moreover, the SCA concluded that there was no obligation to supply to the complainant as a new customer as such an obligation only exists if: i) access to the pharmaceutical company's drug is necessary in order to compete on the downstream market, ii) the refusal to supply eliminates all effective competition on the market and iii) the refusal is not objectively justified. Therefore, the SCA found that there had been no cutting off of supplies or refusal to supply in breach of the competition rules. In light of this, the SCA decided to discontinue its investigation. Source: Swedish Competition Authority Press Release 18/11/2016 (in Swedish) and Swedish Competition Authority Decision 10/11/2016 (in Swedish)

Competition (Sweden): Competition can result in better payment solutions 

On 21 November 2016, the SCA published a research report concerning electronic payment services. The report focuses on mobile payment services in Sweden.

The report concludes that the current market for payment services in 2016 is changing rapidly. This is linked to a number of factors, such as new services, new technologies, new customer behavior and new laws and regulations. The rapid changes give rise to new opportunities for innovators, but at the same time new challenges for the traditional suppliers of payment services.

The report concludes that the payment system in the future is likely to be subject to greater competition. Source: Swedish Competition Authority Press Release 21/11/2016 (in Swedish) and Research Report "Framväxten av mobila, elektroniska betalningstjänster i Sverige – En studie av förändring inom betalsystemet" (in Swedish)