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Two-minute Recap of Competition Law Matters Around the Globe – August 2022

Sony PlayStation is being sued for £5 billion in a class action in the UK over excessive pricing

Sony PlayStation is accused of abusing its dominant position by overcharging millions of gamers as well as developers and publishers for six years. It is alleged that Sony made people overpay for its products and services by charging 30% commission on each digital game and add-on content sold through Sony’s console or the PlayStation Store since August 2016. According to the legal action, damages per individual are estimated to vary between £67 and £562.

Tidal wave for digital markets in Asia and Oceania

  • In line with recent trends, competition authorities throughout the world are taking the reins in their hands to keep up with the rapid changes in the digital economy. In a case that reminds us of Google’s troubles with publishers in France, New Zealand’s Commerce Commission has decided to allow news publishers to collectively negotiate with Meta and Google about displaying news content.
  • Meanwhile, Australia’s Competition and Consumer Commission launched an inquiry concerning social media services, especially focusing on the supply of said services and advertising on social media platforms. The Australian authority noted that this is the sixth instalment of its five-year digital platform services inquiry.
  • In Asia, Korea’s Communications Commission launched an investigation to determine whether Google, Apple and One Store violated the law by barring third-party payment providers in their application marketplaces. The authority will conduct its assessment to decide if they forced a specific payment method on users.
  • The authorities in Korea have not stopped there, as the public prosecutor raided Naver, an e-commerce platform, with regards to criminal allegations that it abused its dominance by preventing real estate information providers from selling data to its main competitor. It has been noted that Korea’s Fair Trade Commission (KFTC) fined Naver EUR 776,000 in September 2020 for including exclusivity clauses in its contracts with real estate content providers, thus preventing them from working with competing platforms. KFTC filed a criminal complaint with the public prosecutors in November 2021 as requested by the Ministry of SMEs and Startups. 

LPG cartel in Brazil

Brazil’s Administrative Council for Economic Defense (CADE) has concluded its investigation regarding allegations of price fixing and market allocation between LPG distributors. The investigation into the cartel was initiated by state prosecutors back in 2009, and CADE launched its investigation in 2016 after obtaining information that was seized during dawn raids conducted by the police in 2010. It should be noted that while CADE fined three companies over EUR 122 million, six other companies had already reached a settlement with the authority after the investigation was launched. Furthermore, 11 individuals were sanctioned by the authority for their role in the cartel.

U.S. DoJ and Bundeskartellamt’s concerns abort $987 million MAERSK deal

Container giant China International Marine Containers has abandoned its plan to acquire Maersk Container Industry, a specialist in refrigerated box manufacturing, following the U.S. Department of Justice's Antitrust Division’s plan to sue to block the proposed acquisition. The DoJ, working together with Germany’s Bundeskartellamt, considers that the deal would have generated excessive market concentration, potentially leading to higher prices, lower quality and poorer innovation, as it would put 90% of the world's reefer container production in the hands of Chinese state-controlled enterprises.

WhatsApp may face investigation in India due to its privacy policy

The Delhi High Court has held that WhatsApp must face a full abuse of dominance investigation by the Competition Commission of India (CCI) over the changes made in 2021 in the privacy policy of the instant messaging application. The CCI argued that the new privacy policy would enable WhatsApp to collect excessive amounts of consumer data, which may result in the use and sharing of data in an anti-competitive context. WhatsApp, together with its parent, Meta, have filed a challenge to dismiss the CCI probe.

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