Japanese Airline to Pay A$5.5 Million in Price-fixing Case
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has announced that Japan Airlines International Co Ltd (JAL) has been ordered to pay A$5.5 million in penalties for engaging in price-fixing fuel surcharges between 2003 and 2005, and insurance and security surcharges between 2003 and 2006, in relation to the international carriage of freight from Singapore to destinations world-wide. In addition to the penalty, JAL has been ordered to pay A$200,000 towards ACCC’s costs.
ACCC’s media release (11 April 2011)
Microsoft Lodges Formal Antitrust Complaint Against Google
The Australian Financial Review (AFR) reports that Microsoft has stepped up its attack against Google’s business practices by complaining to the European Commission that Google is “an internet bully that abuses its dominance of online search and advertising”, making it Microsoft’s first formal antitrust complaint lodged with a government agency. Reportedly, several smaller websites, including Microsoft’s Ciao and Foundem, contended that Google was highlighting its own services and “unfairly burying” smaller websites in search results. Among other matters, Microsoft alleged that Google was favouring its own Android and Apple’s Iphone, while making it difficult for Windows’ phone software users to access Google’s Youtube site, reports the AFR. Microsoft general counsel Brad Smith reportedly accused Google of “walling off access to content and data that competitors need to provide search results to consumers and to attract advertisers”.
AFR: Microsoft takes Google fight to competition watchdog (1 April 2011)
EU Fines 17 Companies for 18 Year Long Cartel
Europe, Middle East and Africa
The European Union (EU) has fined 17 producers of prestressing steel a combined €269 870 750 for operating a market-sharing and price-fixing cartel between 1984 and 2002. The companies breached the EU’s ban on cartels and restrictive business practices by agreeing on individual quotas and prices, monitoring prices, allocating clients and exchanging sensitive commercial information.
EU’s media release (4 April 2011)
Penalties for Major Airlines in Cartel Proceeding
The New Zealand Commerce Commission (NZCC) has announced that the High Court of Auckland has ordered Cargolux International Airlines (Cargolux) and British Airways (BA) to pay NZ$6 million and NZ$1.6 million respectively in penalties, and NZ$25,000 and NZ$100,000 respectively in costs for “entering into and giving effect to price-fixing arrangements”. Cargolux and BA admitted to colluding on cargo fuel surcharges, with Cargolux additionally admitting to fixing security surcharges in respect of freighted cargo. Airlines defending the cartel action include Air New Zealand Limited, Cathay Pacific Airways Limited, Emirates, Japan Airlines International Co Limited, Singapore Airlines Limited and Thai Airways International Public Limited Company.
NZCC’s media release (5 April 2011)
Toys “R” Us to Pay Fine for Breaching Order
The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has announced that Toys “R” Us has agreed to pay a US$1.3 million penalty for breaching an Order (13 October1998), which prohibits the company from “urging any supplier to limit supply of products or [refusing] to sell to discounters”, and inquiring about suppliers’ dealings with any toy discounter. The order also requires Toys “R” Us to maintain records of communication with its suppliers. The FTC alleges that Toy “R” Us, via its subsidiary Babies “R” Us “complained to several of its suppliers about the discounts other retailers were providing to consumers” and failed to keep records of communication, among other things.
FTC’s media release (29 March 2011)