On December 19, 2023, the French Competition Authority (“FCA”) fined Rolex for having prevented its authorized retailers from selling its products online for over ten years (the “Decision”).[1]  The FCA considered that such a prohibition constituted a vertical agreement restricting competition, rejecting Rolex’s argument that it was necessary to prevent counterfeiting and parallel trade.  The FCA imposed a fine of  €91 million, which is the highest fine imposed to date by the FCA in relation to a prohibition of online sales.  The FCA also investigated whether Rolex had engaged in resale price maintenance between 2011 and 2022, but ultimately rejected this prong of the complainants’ claim for lack of evidence.

On June 29, 2023, the Court of Justice ruled on questions referred by the Lisbon Court of Appeals relating to alleged resale price maintenance (“RPM”) by Super Bock, a Portuguese beverage manufacturer.[1]  The Court of Justice held, inter alia, that a vertical agreement fixing minimum prices is not necessarily a restriction of competition by object despite its characterization as a “hardcore restriction” under the Vertical Block Exemption Regulation (“VBER”)[2] and, in certain circumstances, the existence of an agreement may be inferred from “explicit or tacit acquiescence” by the distributors to an invitation to comply with minimum resale prices.[3]

On July 4, 2023, the Commission conditionally approved, in Phase I, Advent’s acquisition of market research provider GfK through its subsidiary NielsenIQ, after Advent pulled and refiled the merger notification.[1]  The approval is subject to the divestment of GfK’s global consumer panel services (“CPS”) business, excluding Russia.[2]

On July 13, 2023, the Court of Justice delivered its much anticipated judgment in Commission v. CK Telecoms,[1] setting aside the General Court’s landmark judgment that annulled the Commission’s 2016 prohibition of the proposed 4-to-3 merger between Telefónica Europe Plc (“O2”) and Hutchinson 3G UK Investments Limited (“Three”), the second and fourth largest mobile network operators in the UK, that would have created a new market leader with a combined share above 40%.[2]

On July 4, 2023, the Court of Justice delivered its judgment in Meta Platforms Inc. v. Bundeskartellamt,[1] following a request for a preliminary ruling from the Düsseldorf Higher Regional Court (“Düsseldorf Court”) on the validity of the German Federal Cartel Office (“FCO”) 2019 decision finding that Meta Platforms (“Meta”)[2] abused its dominant position by collecting and processing data without users giving their consent freely.[3]  The Court of Justice confirmed that competition authorities can find breach of data protection rules under the General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”) where that finding is necessary to establish the existence of an abuse of dominance under Article 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (“TFEU”).  The Court of Justice however emphasized that competition authorities are required to consult and cooperate with national supervisory authorities in charge of GDPR enforcement (“GDPR authorities”).

On June 30, 2022, the European Commission (“EC”) launched a public consultation seeking feedback on the performance of Regulation 1/2003[1] and Regulation 773/2004[2] (the “Regulations”), which govern the enforcement procedure of EU antitrust law.[3]  Interested parties are invited to provide comments by October 6, 2022.