On 16 October 2019, the European Commission (EC) imposed interim measures on Broadcom. Broadcom is a technology leader in the design, development and supply of a range of semiconductor and infrastructure software solutions, including chipsets for TV set-top boxes and modems. The EC started its investigation in October 2018, and now, one year later, it decided it gathered sufficient evidence of a prima facie infringement that would lead to serious and irreparable harm for competitors, without the imposition of interim measures.
According to the investigation of the EC, Broadcom is at first sight engaged in abusive behaviour on the markets for systems-on-a-chip for TV set-top boxes, fibre modems and xDSL modems. On the basis of the analysis of several supply contracts, Broadcom is found to impose (quasi-) exclusive purchasing obligations coupled with exclusivity rebates. Moreover, irreparable damage is deemed particularly likely, because a large number of tenders are to be launched by broadcasting and telecoms providers in the coming years. Therefore, Broadcom is ordered to (i) suspend the application of the anticompetitive provisions in agreements with six customers and (ii) refrain from including the same provisions or provisions having an equivalent effect in future agreements with these customers. The interim measures will apply for three years or until the adoption of a final decision on the substance of Broadcom's conduct.
This is the first time in eighteen years and the first time since the entry into force of Regulation 1/2003 that the EC imposed interim measures in an abuse of dominance case. However, in the press conference, Commissioner Vestager stated that interim measures are particularly relevant for fast-moving platform- or network driven markets and that she is willing to keep this tool in mind for future cases in these sectors.
Link to the press release here.