On March 4, 2024, the Commission fined Apple €1.8 billion—its first ever antitrust fine imposed on Apple and third largest ever—for abusing its dominant position on the market for the distribution of music streaming apps to iPhone and iPad users (“iOS users”) through its App Store (“Decision”).[1]

On December 20, 2023, the French Competition Authority (“FCA”) fined Sony EUR 13.5 million for allegations of abuse of dominant position in the supply of video game controllers for its PlayStation 4 (“PS4”) console between November 2015 and April 2020.[1]

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 December 11, 2023, the French Competition Authority (“FCA”) imposed a €4 million fine on Mariage Frères SAS and one of its subsidiaries, Mariage Frères International SAS (together, “Mariage Frères”), a French producer of premium teas.[1]  The FCA found that Mariage Frères had been prohibiting distributors from (i) reselling its branded products online and (ii) reselling its branded products to other retailers for over 14 years, two practices prohibited by the Vertical Block Exemption Regulation (“VBER”) under both the former and new regimes.[2]

On October 26, 2023, the European Court of Justice issued a preliminary ruling in EDP – Energias de Portugal and Others,[1] upon request from the Lisbon Court of Appeals, which had asked for clarification on how to assess non-compete clauses under Article 101(1) and (3) TFEU and whether these could constitute “by object” restrictions.  The Court of Justice clarified the standard of assessment of such non-compete clauses, confirming that they can be categorized as restrictions by object if they display a sufficient degree of harm to competition.

On October 25, 2023, the General Court delivered its judgment in Bulgarian Energy Holding and Others v. Commission.[1]  In a shift in the case law that signals an increased focus on effects in Article 102 cases, the General Court concluded that the Commission failed to establish that the examined conduct constituted a refusal to supply, let alone an abuse of dominance by Bulgarian Energy Holding, Bulgartransgaz, and Bulgargaz (together, “the BEH Group”).  The judgment clarifies the evidentiary standard required to establish causality between purportedly abusive practices and their resulting potential anticompetitive effects.  It also concludes that the Commission infringed the BEH Group’s rights of defense during the administrative procedure.  The judgment signals the General Court’s willingness to scrutinize technical factual assessments that are often heavily contested by companies in competition law investigations.

On October 18, 2023, the General Court dismissed[1] the appeals of Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd (“Teva”) and Cephalon Inc. (“Cephalon”) against the Commission’s decision imposing a €60.5 million fine on both pharmaceutical companies for pay-for-delay agreements.[2]  The General Court confirmed the Commission’s conclusion that Teva and Cephalon’s patent settlement agreement was aimed at preventing Teva from entering the market with its generic modafinil drug, and therefore restricted competition by object and by effect.