By: Lars Mesenbrink and Julius Schradin (Antitrust Watch)
In a nutshell:
- What’s new?
- Introduction of the Concept of Intermediation Power: A dominant position can as of now also result from intermediation services of a company that is active in multisided markets.
- The German competition authority now has a new tool for intervention aiming at some types of large platforms’ conduct and other companies for which the authority established a so-called “paramount cross-market significance for competition”.
- Action items for our clients
- Follow the Federal Cartel Office’s approach with the new tool closely – we will keep you posted.
The 10th amendment carries the name “Act amending the Act against Restraints of Competition for a focused, proactive and digital Competition Law 4.0 and other provisions (ARC Digitization Act)” and, as the name suggests, comprises the legislature’s intent to adapt German competition regulation to the new competitive environment in digital markets, in particular with respect to the controversial behavior of “gatekeeper” companies with superior market power like Google and Amazon. Hence, a core element of the amendment is the modernization of regulations on the control of abusive practices, in particular, the introduction of a new section 19a ARC (Act against Restraints of Competition) on abusive conduct of companies with a paramount cross-market significance for competition.
For the first time, section 19a ARC enables the Federal Cartel Office to intervene at an early stage in the event of threats to competition from certain large companies by determining that a company, which is active to a considerable extent in multisided markets, is of paramount importance for competition across markets, i.e., companies whose strategic position and resources make them particularly important for competition across markets. Under specific circumstances, the Federal Cartel Office can preventively prohibit such companies from certain practices, including:
1. Prohibition of “self-preferencing”, i.e., prohibition of giving preferential treatment to the company’s own offerings over those of competitors, in particular in terms of presentation and pre-installing exclusively the company’s own offerings on devices (a situation prominently discussed in the “Google-Shopping” case of the EU Commission)…