On February 4, 2022, the Commission released a revised draft dual distribution guidance[1] within the broader context of the ongoing review of EU vertical rules.

On January 31, 2022, the Commission launched a formal investigation of Pierre Cardin and its largest licensee, the Ahlers Group (“Ahlers”) concerning the restriction of cross-border and online sales of Pierre Cardin-licensed products.[1] The Commission will investigate whether Pierre Cardin’s licensing agreement with Ahlers restricted parallel imports and sales to specific customer groups.

On January 26, 2022, the Council of State confirmed on appeal the annulment by the TAR Lazio[1] of a decision in which the ICA found that Società Iniziative Editoriali S.p.A. (“SIE”), the publisher of L’Adige, the main daily newspaper in the area of Trento, abused its dominant position in the daily newspaper market in that geographic area (the “Decision”).

On January 26, 2022, the General Court partially annulled the Commission’s decision imposing a €1.06 billion fine on Intel for abusing its dominant position through the granting of exclusivity- conditioned rebates.[1] The General Court found that the Commission had not established to the requisite legal standard that the rebates were capable of having, or were likely to have, anticompetitive effects.[2]

On January 19, 2022, the German Federal Cartel Office (“FCO”) closed its proceedings on furniture retailer KHG GmbH & Co. KG’s (Krieger/Höffner Group, “KHG”) envisaged accession to the purchasing cooperation Bedarfsgüter Großhandelsgesellschaft für Wohnung GmbH (“Begros”) which it had initiated in early 2021.  In the end, KHG and Begros were able to dispel the FCO’s concerns by offering substantial modifications to their initial plans.[1]

On Tuesday, January 18th, FTC Chair Lina Khan and DOJ Antitrust Division Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Kanter held a joint press conference in which they announced ambitious plans to review and update the Merger Guidelines, targeting a release of new guidelines before the end of 2022.

On January 12, 2022, former European Central Bank official Benoît Coeuré was appointed President of the French Competition Authority (“FCA”) following his hearing by both houses of the French Parliament.[1] He was unanimously appointed by members of the Commission for Economic Affairs of the Assemblée Nationale, while the Commission for Economic Affairs of the Sénat displayed a more balanced distribution of votes (only 12 in favor out of 22 votes cast).

On January 5, 2022, the Paris Court of Appeals annulled a €2 million damages award that the Paris Commercial Court ordered feminine hygiene products company Vania to pay Carrefour[1] as a result of its participation in a cartel in the body care sector, which resulted in maintaining artificially high prices between 2003 and 2006, and for which Vania was fined €45.03 million by the French Competition Authority (“FCA”) in 2014.

On January 4, 2022, the Cour de cassation confirmed the rulings of the president of the Court of Appeals validating dawn raids carried out in May 2017 by the French Competition Authority (“FCA”) in the rendering sector.[1]

On December 22, 2021, the German Federal Cartel Office (“FCO”) published its annual review for 2021.[1]  As done already on the occasion of the presentation of its Annual Report 2020/2021,[2] the FCO’s President, Andreas Mundt, emphasized again that the protection of competition in the digital economy remains one of the FCO’s top priorities.  He underlined that also merger control will continue to serve as a key tool to achieve this goal.  In addition, he pointed out that the FCO would welcome powers of intervention also with regard to infringements of consumer rights.