Thursday, July 14, 2011

This Week in Luxembourg

This week's Grand Chamber ruling is a bit of a long story. The upshot is, though, that perfume companies can sue online auction sites like Ebay, as well as the sellers who use them, for trademark infringement for selling perfume samples into the EU. In the process of so holding, the Court relies on and develops both the Google Adwords case law and the earlier L'Oreal case and its progeny. L'Oreal et al. v. Ebay et al.

In 2002, Italy suffered some natural disaster, which the government tried to repair by providing compensation. This compensation was not directly linked to the damage incurred, however, but to a proxy: the difference between 2002 and previous yeaars in the volume of investments. In October 2004, the Commission concluded that this was unlawful state aid, and Italy did not seek annullment. Now, in July 2011, Italy has still not completely complied. (FR, IT)

More fun with PGIs and trademarks: Bureau national interprofessionnel du Cognac v. Gust. Ranin Oy

AG Sharpston concludes for dismissal in the latest round of PMOI litigation. In other words: The Terrorists Win! France v. PMOI

In Seaport (NI) et al. v. Department of the Environment for Northern Ireland, AG Bot explores separation of powers & environmental impact assessments under Directive 2001/42. Oddly enough, he is not thrilled about the idea of government entities consulting with themselves for the purposes of art. 6 of the Directive.

In Medeva, AG Trstenjak makes some undoubtedly fascinating observations about the grant of supplementary protection certificates for medicinal products under Regulation 469/2009, in particular when it comes to multi-disease vaccines.

This week the General Court handed down a whole stack of competition law judgements. It declined to uphold the Commissin's decision in the following cases:
· In Toshiba v. Commission and Mitshubishi Electric v. Commission, the fine (but not the rest of the decision) was annulled, because the Commission used the wrong reference year - a different one than the one used for the European cartel members - for the purposes of obtaining the company's turnover, which is an essential ingredient in calculating the starting amount of the fine. So the Commission is going to have to go back to the drawing board on that one.
· In Fuji Electric v. Commission, there is a similar problem. Only this time, the General Court does the new calculation itself. Also, the Holding company gets deleted out of the decision altogether.
· In a different cartel dossier, ENI gets a 33% reduction because the Commission incorrectly marked it as a repeat offender. ENI v. Commission (NL, FR) The same discount, and for the same reason, is obtained by Polimeri Europa (NL, FR)
· In that same cartel, Dow Chemical apparently didn't participate in the first two months, Dow Chemical v. Commission, while the Polish Company Stomil and the Czech company Tavorex apparently didn't participate at all, at least not in a way that the Commission was able to prove. (For the latter: Kaučuk v. Commission and Unipetrol v. Commission.)
· Much to the dismay of the Swiss (cf. also this editorial), Schindler's elevator cartel fine was upheld. (FR) In the various joined ThyssenKrupp cases, however, there was again a problem with the notion of repeat offendor status for successor companies. (NL, DE, FR)

Also in the General Court, and interesting mostly from a procedural point of view: the state aid case of Freistaat Sachsen v. Commissin (RENV) (DE, FR). The first time this case came to the General Court, in 2007, the Court held for the applicant. In December 2008, however, the ECJ upheld the Commission's appeal, and sent the case back to the General Court for consideration of the (factual) please that the General Court did not originally consider. The latter has now remedied that problem, and found those pleas to be meritless.

The 2010 Annual Report of the Court is now available electronically here.

P.S. the archive of these emails is here.

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