Competition Switzerland - Q 3 2010

Author:Mr Silvio Venturi and Pascal Favre
Profession:Tavernier Tschanz
 
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INVESTIGATIONS

The Competition Commission is Conducting an Investigation Regarding Internet Sales Restrictions

On September 15, 2010, the Competition Commission opened an investigation concerning restrictions to internet sales of household appliances. The investigation must show whether the restriction of internet sales constitutes a violation of competition law. It is the first investigation of the Competition Commission about restrictions to the e-commerce. The results should lead to standards for the online commerce that can apply beyond household appliances.

At this time, the investigation is directed against Electrolux AG and V-Zug AG. According to the Competition Commission's press release1, Electrolux AG completely prohibited distributors from selling products online. V-Zug AG imposed restrictions to its distributors regarding this type of sales. The investigation might be extended to other companies in the branch of "white goods" (household appliances).

The secretariat of the Competition Commission had opened a preliminary investigation following a complaint from distributors. This preliminary investigation led to indications that restrictions to internet sales could constitute anticompetitive and illegal agreements. According to the (new) Notice on the Competition Law Treatment of Vertical Restraints issued on June 28, 2010 by the Competition Commission2, distributors must be given the possibility to have access to internet and to meet online orders. Indeed, the Notice includes a new, more detailed definition of "passive sales". Passive sales may not be prohibited even in the case of exclusive distribution agreements. Internet sales are generally considered to be passive sales, unless sales activities are targeted to customers located outside of the distributor's exclusive area.

Electrolux AG and V-Zug AG already expressed their intention to cooperate with the secretariat of the Competition Commission so as to establish, in the context of the investigation, standards for online commerce.

LEGISLATIVE PROPOSALS

The Swiss Federal Council Consults on the Review of the Cartel Act

On June 30, 2010, the Federal Council (the executive body in Switzerland) opened a public consultation until November 19, 2010 regarding the partial review of the Competition Act. The main aim of this reform is to bring material and institutional improvements to the law3.

On January 14, 2009 the Federal Council was presented with a Synthesis Report issued by...

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