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Official Blog of the European Competition and Regulatory Law Review (CoRe)

The CoRe Blog is the interactive online platform for up-to-date analysis of EU competition law developments. It’s the blog companion of the quarterly double blind peer-reviewed European Competition and Regulatory Law Review (CoRe). The CoRe Blog fills in the gaps that a 4-times-a-year journal can’t address: immediate updates and analysis of breaking news in EU competition and regulatory law and the opportunity to discuss these developments directly with other experts through our Comments section.

We want to hear what you think about the hot topics in EU competition and regulatory law. So share your thoughts in the Comments section of every blog post or submit your own post (500-2000 words) as an external author. The author of the most popular blog post in the last quarter will be published in the CoRe journal and get a free copy of an issue of their choice.

- abuse of dominance ×

Epic v Apple (1): introducing antitrust’s latest Big Tech battle royale

Epic, Fortnite, Apple, battle royale, competition law, antitrust, district court, monopolization, monopoly, essential facilities, refusal to supply, tying, abuse of dominance
Mid-August 2020, a series of events unfolded in a short period of time. They may prove a watershed moment for the role of antitrust in regulating digital markets. It started when gamers playing Fortnite on their iPhone were suddenly faced with a new choice screen when buying in-app currency: What changed is that Epic, the developer of Fortnite, introduced an […]

Slack v. Microsoft – more than just another tying case

The recent wave of claims against digital giants appears to have completed a circle with Slack’s recent claim against Microsoft for allegedly abusing its dominant position by tying Microsoft Teams to the Office 365 software package. One cannot deny the resemblance between this claim and the previous tying cases Microsoft had faced, however, upon closer look Slack’s claim is much […]

Re-imagining the Abuse of Economic Dependence in a Digital World

Mobile apps image
As proven by the recent consultation on the Digital Services Act, the European Union is actively pursuing new solutions to cope with the challenges posed by digitalization. This post proposes a new approach to conducts taking place in the context of online commercial relationships, such as refusals to access platforms or datasets. Namely, it suggests that the European legislator should […]

Corona and EU economic law: Antitrust (Articles 101 and 102 TFEU)

By Friso Bostoen and Liesbet Van Acker As the corona pandemic instils more and more fear in the population, some of its economic effects are immediately noticeable. Two items—hand sanitizer and facemasks—have been in particularly high demand (and short supply). This has driven prices up to a level where one may wonder whether they are abusive in the sense of […]

The Intermarché-Coca Cola dispute: Who’s the bad guy? An analysis of the retail distributor-supplier relationship

If you want to buy Coca Cola products in the supermarket Intermarché in France, you will arrive home empty-handed. Since the end of December, Coca Cola has refused to refill Intermarché’s stock, following a conflict about Intermarché’s unwillingness to sell the whole assortment of Coca Cola’s products. In the summer, Intermarché communicated to Coca Cola that it would like to […]

Lessons and questions from Google Android- Part 2 – Tying in two-sided markets, anti-competitive effects and extra-territorial remedies

Android with cookies
The very lengthy and complex Google Android decision provides us with lots of material for discussion. In the first part of this discussion the matter of the definition of the relevant market was addressed. Although it may appear that this is the only key issue in the case, the decision covers several other issues, which deserve equal (if not more) attention. […]

Amazon cases on the move: Bundeskartellamt closes proceedings while European Commission opens formal investigation

online shopping cartoon
The 17th of July has been quite the day for Amazon, at least when it comes to antitrust. Firstly, the German Competition Authority (Bundeskartellamt) has closed its abuse of dominance proceedings against Amazon in return for concessions from the online marketplace. Secondly, the European Commission announced that it was opening a formal investigation into possible anti-competitive conduct by Amazon. This blog post takes a closer […]

Abuse of relative dominance in the platform economy: a French court finds Amazon’s contracts with third-party sellers significantly imbalanced

Two years ago (before Amazon became entangled in a patchwork of investigations by competition authorities), Reuters reported: ‘France files complaint against Amazon for abuse of dominant position’. The news report did not garner a lot of attention. More surprisingly, neither did the recent judgment of the Paris Commercial Court on the complaint. As the judgment offers insight into several pressing questions presented by platform competition […]

‘We have reached “peak cloning” in Silicon Valley’: when does copying your competitor’s product become anticompetitive?

same sneakers with different price
‘We have reached “peak cloning” in Silicon Valley’, read a recent tweet by Jeff Morris Jr. (Tinder’s director of product). ‘There are no rules anymore’, the author continued, ‘if you build a product that works, Amazon or Facebook will copy it.’ The tweet was prompted by the apparent copying by Amazon of Allbirds. Allbirds is a brand famous for its merino wool […]

Ex-ante competition law enforcement and online platforms – a tool with no (clear) instructions

woodworking tools
The interest of national competition authorities in the matter of online platforms and competition law is becoming increasingly visible. In the case of the Dutch competition authority this growing interest has recently resulted in a call for introducing ex-ante enforcement tools in the context of online platforms. Although the idea may indeed be constructive for the adaption of the current […]

Is there hope for competition in the rail sector?

The blocking of the Siemens-Alstom merger reminded everyone of the ‘pros and cons’ arguments in the debate on the liberalisation and competition in network industries. Despite the EU actions to liberalise rail markets and open them to competition, the issues relevant to incumbents who own both the rail infrastructure and freight operations are still at present. Several years ago the Commission imposed […]

The return of the MFN clauses – platform ranking as an enforcement mechanism for price parity

The MFN cases of the past few years have delivered a series of uncoordinated cases that created a fragmented approach towards MFN clauses. Nowadays it would appear that there is a growing consensus in Europe that wide MFN clauses should be prohibited which, also led major platform like Expedia to abandon these pricing strategies. The recent claim put forward by […]

App stores and (potential) abuses of dominance – an opportunity to reshape competition law enforcement in digital markets

smartphone menu
During the past few weeks the number of complaints against Apple’s practices concerning the App Store has not gone unnoticed. While previous complaints by unhappy developers were perceived as isolated cases it would seem that now the flood gates have been opened, and the stream is primarily targeting Apple. In Europe, this development has been given quite some media coverage […]

Spotify lodges antitrust complaint against Apple: it’s ‘time to play fair’ in the music streaming industry

On March 13th, Spotify filed a formal antitrust complaint against Apple with the European Commission (EC). In the complaint, Spotify alleges that Apple has been using its App Store to impede Spotify’s competitive potential to the advantage of Apple Music—its biggest competitor in the music streaming business. In what follows, I quickly examine the contentious history between Spotify and Apple before surveying […]

Business users vs. platforms – a (not entirely) new battle frontier

The recent complaint of Spotify against Apple is yet another case concerning the contractual relationship between online platforms and their business users that appear to arise quite often these days. In the context of these cases the business users of online platforms claim to be subject to undesired practices such discriminatory treatment and unreasonable pricing. The essence of most of these complaints […]

When competition law met data protection: the Bundeskartellamt’s Facebook decision

On February 6th, the German Competition Authority (Bundeskartellamt or BKA) adopted its long-awaited Facebook decision, imposing far-reaching restrictions on how the social network can collect and process user data. This decision follows a preliminary assessment that the BKA published in December 2017, which this blog discussed at length. The BKA’s decision—as set out in a case summary and background paper—sticks closely to its preliminary assessment. In this blog post, […]

Abuse of dominance through data overcharges and EU competition law enforcement

The past year the EU commission and numerous competition authorities have addressed the matter of applying competition law to online platforms. The discussions concerning Facebook and Amazon have even touched upon the difficult relation between data and competition law. Despite the many debates concerning the application of competition law in digital markets, little attestation was given to the calculation of fines and damages […]

It’s raining Amazon probes: the Bundeskartellamt joins the Commission in investigating the tech giant’s marketplace practices

The investigation On 29 November 2018, the German competition authority (Bundeskartellamt) announced an investigation into Amazon’s business terms and practices on its German marketplace. The Bundeskartellamt’s president commented: Amazon is the largest online retailer and operates by far the largest online marketplace in Germany. Many retailers and manufacturers depend on the reach of Amazon’s marketplace for their online sales. Amazon functions as […]

The Commission’s Amazon probe: overcoming the antitrust paradox

In a press conference on September 19th, EU Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager announced a preliminary investigation into Amazon. At the heart of the potentially abusive conduct is Amazon’s ‘dual role’. One the one hand, Amazon offers a marketplace for third-party sellers to offer their products to consumers. On the other hand, Amazon offers its own products through its marketplace. The Commission’s […]

Market definition for two-(or multi) sided platforms – demand interdependence and substitution as guiding principles

blackboard whit charts
The past year has led to a lot of discussion on the relation between competition law and (online) platforms and a lot of disagreement on how competition law should apply in such cases as displayed by comments on the major cases of Amex and Google. Unsurprisingly, one of the most contentious aspects of these cases was the market definition. It […]

The Commission’s Android decision: Google cements its dominance in search… to the benefit of consumers?

Last week’s Commission decision on Google’s Android operating system made for great headlines. On top of the eye-watering fine of €4.3 billion, it even had the dubious honour of eliciting a presidential tweet. It was the kind of decision that sparked extensive papers long before its adoption, and a barrage of commentary immediately afterwards. Now that the dust has settled, […]

Tales of two-sided markets, market definitions and anti-competitive effects – insights from Ohio v. American Express

  The case of Ohio v. Amex is the final phase of a long legal battle that started back in 2010 where Amex was accused of infringing section 1 of the Sherman Act for imposing its anti-steering provisions on merchants accepting Amex. While not delivering on all fronts, the case of Amex is an important one in the context of […]

Online platforms and refusal to deal – Unlockd vs. Google – a seminal case in the making?

The recent standoff between advertisement application developer Unlockd and Google, concerning the removal of Unlockd from the Google Play Store and AdMob marketplace, may turn out to be one of the most important competition law cases of the year. This case, which will likely require a competition law review of Google’s terms and conditions for these platforms, provides the opportunity […]

Price discrimination and abuse of dominance – MEO Case C-525/16

The recent case of MEO delivers a meaningful clarification concerning the importance of an effects analysis in the case of art. 102 (c) TFEU. While not providing an ultimate solution for all comparable future cases, the CJEU in this case clearly indicates that term ‘competitive disadvantage’ constitutes an independent element of art. 102 (c) TFEU that requires proof. Background to […]

Online platforms and abuse of dominance – the case of Funda Real Estate

The application of EU competition law to online platforms has been subject to much debate in the course of the past two years. The EU Commission and several national competition law authorities have launched multiple studies in order to identify the possible challenges in this context and establish an action plan. The distinguishing characteristics of online platforms including: the reliance […]
Anja Naumann

Blog Editor

Graduate Teaching Associate, Queen Mary University, London

>> Anja’s CoRe Blog posts >>

Daniel Mandrescu

Blog editor

Ph.D. Fellow, Europa Institute, Leiden University

>> Daniel’s CoRe blog posts >>

Friso Bostoen

Blog Editor

Ph.D. Researcher and Teaching Assistant, KU Leuven

>> Friso’s CoRe Blog posts >>

Picture Kiran Desai
Kiran Desai

Digest Editor

Partner, EU Competition Law Leader, EY Law, Brussels

>> Kiran’s CoRe Blog Case Digests >>

Picture Rita Paukste
Rita Paukste

Blog Editor

Senior Associate, Motieka & Audzevicius PLP, Vilnius

>> Rita’s CoRe Blog posts >>

- abuse of dominance ×

Epic v Apple (1): introducing antitrust’s latest Big Tech battle royale

Epic, Fortnite, Apple, battle royale, competition law, antitrust, district court, monopolization, monopoly, essential facilities, refusal to supply, tying, abuse of dominance
Mid-August 2020, a series of events unfolded in a short period of time. They may prove a watershed moment for the role of antitrust in regulating digital markets. It started when gamers playing Fortnite on their iPhone were suddenly faced with a new choice screen when buying in-app currency: What changed is that Epic, the developer of Fortnite, introduced an […]

Slack v. Microsoft – more than just another tying case

The recent wave of claims against digital giants appears to have completed a circle with Slack’s recent claim against Microsoft for allegedly abusing its dominant position by tying Microsoft Teams to the Office 365 software package. One cannot deny the resemblance between this claim and the previous tying cases Microsoft had faced, however, upon closer look Slack’s claim is much […]

Re-imagining the Abuse of Economic Dependence in a Digital World

Mobile apps image
As proven by the recent consultation on the Digital Services Act, the European Union is actively pursuing new solutions to cope with the challenges posed by digitalization. This post proposes a new approach to conducts taking place in the context of online commercial relationships, such as refusals to access platforms or datasets. Namely, it suggests that the European legislator should […]

Corona and EU economic law: Antitrust (Articles 101 and 102 TFEU)

By Friso Bostoen and Liesbet Van Acker As the corona pandemic instils more and more fear in the population, some of its economic effects are immediately noticeable. Two items—hand sanitizer and facemasks—have been in particularly high demand (and short supply). This has driven prices up to a level where one may wonder whether they are abusive in the sense of […]

The Intermarché-Coca Cola dispute: Who’s the bad guy? An analysis of the retail distributor-supplier relationship

If you want to buy Coca Cola products in the supermarket Intermarché in France, you will arrive home empty-handed. Since the end of December, Coca Cola has refused to refill Intermarché’s stock, following a conflict about Intermarché’s unwillingness to sell the whole assortment of Coca Cola’s products. In the summer, Intermarché communicated to Coca Cola that it would like to […]

Lessons and questions from Google Android- Part 2 – Tying in two-sided markets, anti-competitive effects and extra-territorial remedies

Android with cookies
The very lengthy and complex Google Android decision provides us with lots of material for discussion. In the first part of this discussion the matter of the definition of the relevant market was addressed. Although it may appear that this is the only key issue in the case, the decision covers several other issues, which deserve equal (if not more) attention. […]

Amazon cases on the move: Bundeskartellamt closes proceedings while European Commission opens formal investigation

online shopping cartoon
The 17th of July has been quite the day for Amazon, at least when it comes to antitrust. Firstly, the German Competition Authority (Bundeskartellamt) has closed its abuse of dominance proceedings against Amazon in return for concessions from the online marketplace. Secondly, the European Commission announced that it was opening a formal investigation into possible anti-competitive conduct by Amazon. This blog post takes a closer […]

Abuse of relative dominance in the platform economy: a French court finds Amazon’s contracts with third-party sellers significantly imbalanced

Two years ago (before Amazon became entangled in a patchwork of investigations by competition authorities), Reuters reported: ‘France files complaint against Amazon for abuse of dominant position’. The news report did not garner a lot of attention. More surprisingly, neither did the recent judgment of the Paris Commercial Court on the complaint. As the judgment offers insight into several pressing questions presented by platform competition […]

‘We have reached “peak cloning” in Silicon Valley’: when does copying your competitor’s product become anticompetitive?

same sneakers with different price
‘We have reached “peak cloning” in Silicon Valley’, read a recent tweet by Jeff Morris Jr. (Tinder’s director of product). ‘There are no rules anymore’, the author continued, ‘if you build a product that works, Amazon or Facebook will copy it.’ The tweet was prompted by the apparent copying by Amazon of Allbirds. Allbirds is a brand famous for its merino wool […]

Ex-ante competition law enforcement and online platforms – a tool with no (clear) instructions

woodworking tools
The interest of national competition authorities in the matter of online platforms and competition law is becoming increasingly visible. In the case of the Dutch competition authority this growing interest has recently resulted in a call for introducing ex-ante enforcement tools in the context of online platforms. Although the idea may indeed be constructive for the adaption of the current […]

Is there hope for competition in the rail sector?

The blocking of the Siemens-Alstom merger reminded everyone of the ‘pros and cons’ arguments in the debate on the liberalisation and competition in network industries. Despite the EU actions to liberalise rail markets and open them to competition, the issues relevant to incumbents who own both the rail infrastructure and freight operations are still at present. Several years ago the Commission imposed […]

The return of the MFN clauses – platform ranking as an enforcement mechanism for price parity

The MFN cases of the past few years have delivered a series of uncoordinated cases that created a fragmented approach towards MFN clauses. Nowadays it would appear that there is a growing consensus in Europe that wide MFN clauses should be prohibited which, also led major platform like Expedia to abandon these pricing strategies. The recent claim put forward by […]

App stores and (potential) abuses of dominance – an opportunity to reshape competition law enforcement in digital markets

smartphone menu
During the past few weeks the number of complaints against Apple’s practices concerning the App Store has not gone unnoticed. While previous complaints by unhappy developers were perceived as isolated cases it would seem that now the flood gates have been opened, and the stream is primarily targeting Apple. In Europe, this development has been given quite some media coverage […]

Spotify lodges antitrust complaint against Apple: it’s ‘time to play fair’ in the music streaming industry

On March 13th, Spotify filed a formal antitrust complaint against Apple with the European Commission (EC). In the complaint, Spotify alleges that Apple has been using its App Store to impede Spotify’s competitive potential to the advantage of Apple Music—its biggest competitor in the music streaming business. In what follows, I quickly examine the contentious history between Spotify and Apple before surveying […]

Business users vs. platforms – a (not entirely) new battle frontier

The recent complaint of Spotify against Apple is yet another case concerning the contractual relationship between online platforms and their business users that appear to arise quite often these days. In the context of these cases the business users of online platforms claim to be subject to undesired practices such discriminatory treatment and unreasonable pricing. The essence of most of these complaints […]

When competition law met data protection: the Bundeskartellamt’s Facebook decision

On February 6th, the German Competition Authority (Bundeskartellamt or BKA) adopted its long-awaited Facebook decision, imposing far-reaching restrictions on how the social network can collect and process user data. This decision follows a preliminary assessment that the BKA published in December 2017, which this blog discussed at length. The BKA’s decision—as set out in a case summary and background paper—sticks closely to its preliminary assessment. In this blog post, […]

Abuse of dominance through data overcharges and EU competition law enforcement

The past year the EU commission and numerous competition authorities have addressed the matter of applying competition law to online platforms. The discussions concerning Facebook and Amazon have even touched upon the difficult relation between data and competition law. Despite the many debates concerning the application of competition law in digital markets, little attestation was given to the calculation of fines and damages […]

It’s raining Amazon probes: the Bundeskartellamt joins the Commission in investigating the tech giant’s marketplace practices

The investigation On 29 November 2018, the German competition authority (Bundeskartellamt) announced an investigation into Amazon’s business terms and practices on its German marketplace. The Bundeskartellamt’s president commented: Amazon is the largest online retailer and operates by far the largest online marketplace in Germany. Many retailers and manufacturers depend on the reach of Amazon’s marketplace for their online sales. Amazon functions as […]

The Commission’s Amazon probe: overcoming the antitrust paradox

In a press conference on September 19th, EU Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager announced a preliminary investigation into Amazon. At the heart of the potentially abusive conduct is Amazon’s ‘dual role’. One the one hand, Amazon offers a marketplace for third-party sellers to offer their products to consumers. On the other hand, Amazon offers its own products through its marketplace. The Commission’s […]

Market definition for two-(or multi) sided platforms – demand interdependence and substitution as guiding principles

blackboard whit charts
The past year has led to a lot of discussion on the relation between competition law and (online) platforms and a lot of disagreement on how competition law should apply in such cases as displayed by comments on the major cases of Amex and Google. Unsurprisingly, one of the most contentious aspects of these cases was the market definition. It […]

The Commission’s Android decision: Google cements its dominance in search… to the benefit of consumers?

Last week’s Commission decision on Google’s Android operating system made for great headlines. On top of the eye-watering fine of €4.3 billion, it even had the dubious honour of eliciting a presidential tweet. It was the kind of decision that sparked extensive papers long before its adoption, and a barrage of commentary immediately afterwards. Now that the dust has settled, […]

Tales of two-sided markets, market definitions and anti-competitive effects – insights from Ohio v. American Express

  The case of Ohio v. Amex is the final phase of a long legal battle that started back in 2010 where Amex was accused of infringing section 1 of the Sherman Act for imposing its anti-steering provisions on merchants accepting Amex. While not delivering on all fronts, the case of Amex is an important one in the context of […]

Online platforms and refusal to deal – Unlockd vs. Google – a seminal case in the making?

The recent standoff between advertisement application developer Unlockd and Google, concerning the removal of Unlockd from the Google Play Store and AdMob marketplace, may turn out to be one of the most important competition law cases of the year. This case, which will likely require a competition law review of Google’s terms and conditions for these platforms, provides the opportunity […]

Price discrimination and abuse of dominance – MEO Case C-525/16

The recent case of MEO delivers a meaningful clarification concerning the importance of an effects analysis in the case of art. 102 (c) TFEU. While not providing an ultimate solution for all comparable future cases, the CJEU in this case clearly indicates that term ‘competitive disadvantage’ constitutes an independent element of art. 102 (c) TFEU that requires proof. Background to […]

Online platforms and abuse of dominance – the case of Funda Real Estate

The application of EU competition law to online platforms has been subject to much debate in the course of the past two years. The EU Commission and several national competition law authorities have launched multiple studies in order to identify the possible challenges in this context and establish an action plan. The distinguishing characteristics of online platforms including: the reliance […]

Do you want to share your analysis of a competition or regulatory law topic with the readers of the CoRe Blog? We invite you to submit your post on, for example: recent European, national or international judgments or legislation with relevance to EU competition law; new developments, publications, hot topics in EU competition law. The recommended length of the post is 500-2,000 words incl. references (hyperlinks). Your analysis will be published under the category ‘Feature’.

Here’s how you can publish a post on the CoRe Blog as a guest author:

Step 1: Submit your draft post as a Word file to coreblog[at]lexxion.eu.

Step 2: The CoRe Blog editors will review your draft to make sure its content and quality fit the blog. If needed, they will suggest what improvements you should make.

Step 3: Once your draft has been finalized and accepted, the editors will send you link to register and log-in to the CoRe Blog as guest author.

Step 4: Once you have logged-in to the blog, you can upload and publish your post.

Step 5: Enjoy the fame!

 

Note: If you want to write on a topic related to EU State aid law, please make the post on Lexxion’s dedicated blog State Aid Hub.

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