Thursday, March 25, 2010

This Week in Luxembourg

The most important case this week was clearly the Google AdWords case. AG Maduro had concluded for Google, but the Grand Chamber disagrees on some points. As regards the regular search, it is clear that there is no trademark infringement. But in response to the Adwords questions, the ECJ does seem to favour some form of contributory infringement, something the AG had rejected. Where the ad in question suggests a link between the third party and the trademark holder, or is confusing in this regard, the trademark holder may prohibit the ad. (EUObserver, NRC blog,Businessweek, )

The Google ruling was immediately applied by the First Chamber in the BergSpechte case. As long as the ad makes clear that the product offered does not come from the trademark holder, the defendant is allowed to purchase the plaintiff's trademark as a Google AdWord.

In Commission v. Netherlands, the Commission argued that the provision of personnel by Dutch government entities to the Euregio's should be subject to value added tax. They lost, but not because the argument was as such not viable. Instead, they simply failed to prove that the activity in question took place on a market in the meaning of the 6th VAT directive, etc. (NL, FR)

AG Jääskinen thinks the Commission should lose its appeal against the CFI's ruling in case T-266/02, Deutsche Post v. Commission. If the court agrees, the Commission's state aid decision stays annulled. The difficulty concerned the method used to calculate whether Deutsche Post had simply been compensated for providing a Service of General Economic Interest (cf. the Ferring precedent), or whether it had in fact received illegal state aid. Commission v. Deutsche Post (NL, DE, FR)

Following her opinion in VTB-VAB (ruling here), AG Trstenjak again discusses Directive 2005/29 on unfair b2c commercial practices. A preliminary problem is the question whether the national (Austrian) law falls within the scope of the Directive in the first place, given that it also seeks to protect the pluriformity of the press (i.e. protect competitors as well as consumers). Otherwise, the rule is again that the directive constitutes full harmonisation, meaning that some of the more drastic rules under consideration fall foul of EU law. Mediaprint (NL, DE, FR)

In competition law and procedure, AG Mengozzi handed down an opinion in the Belgian VEBIC case. The question concerned the right - under Regulation 1/2003 - of a national competition authority to intervene in a case where the lawfulness of one of its decisions was under dispute, and possibly its obligation to do so. Referring to last June's X BV case, and his opinion in that case, the AG argues that the NCA should be able to defend its decision, but that there is (ordinarily) no obligation to do so. This answer is independent from the NCA's status as a judicial or administrative body. (NL, DE, FR)

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