On September 12, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) handed down yet another ruling on the interpretation of EU copyright law. With its Cofemel-decision (C-683/17), the CJEU harmonized the requirements for utilitarian objects, which might also be protected by a (registered or unregistered) design right, to benefit from copyright protection. Provided

On July 9, the European Commission (EC) fined the Japanese company Sanrio – which holds and licenses various popular brands, including Hello Kitty, Chococat and the Mr. Men characters – € 6.2 million for licensing practices that restricted online and cross-border sales of merchandise. In late June it also published the full text of its

In the third of our series of blog posts on antitrust and e-commerce in Europe, we look at the €40 million fine imposed on clothing company Guess by the European Commission (EC) in December 2018.

The case is the first in which the EC finds that restrictions on the use of a brand name for

For twenty years or more, the European Commission (EC) has taken little or no formal enforcement action against anticompetitive distribution practices. However, the recent fines on Nike, Guess and others mark a dramatic change of policy. In the latter half of 2018, the EC imposed fines totalling over €150 million in relation to online distribution

Last year, “GDPR” was without any doubt one of the most hyped boardroom buzzwords, and a popular topic at conferences. This European-wide General Data Protection Regulation aims at harmonizing European data protection legislation and empowering EU-based individuals by enhancing their rights and the protection of their personal data. It was without any doubt the

On March 25, the European Commission (EC) fined Nike €12.5 million for restricting cross-border and online sales of branded merchandise by its European licensees. In December last year, the EC fined Guess €40 million for imposing restrictions on the use of its brand by distributors online. In total in 2018, the EC imposed fines of

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On November 12, Crowell & Moring chaired a plenary session during the 2018 ICPHSO International Symposium in Brussels, which was presented as part of the European Commission’s International Product Safety Week. The panel focused on how, as a result of their Big Data strategies, Business-to-Business (“B2B”) companies are

In its judgment of July 10, 20141,  the EU Court of Justice reaffirmed the consequences of the complete harmonization of the laws of the EU Member States resulting from EU Directive 2005/29/EC concerning unfair business-to-consumer commercial practices in the internal market2 (the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive or UCPD).

The UCPD indeed fully harmonizes the rules relating to unfair business-to-consumer commercial practices in the EU. Accordingly, Member States may not maintain or adopt stricter rules than those laid down in the directive, even where such measures are designed to ensure a higher level of consumer protection.

In the case at hand, the national legislation of Belgium imposed the following restrictions upon retailers announcing price reductions: (i) any announcement of a price reduction must refer to the lowest price applied throughout the month prior to the announcement of the price reduction; (ii) the price may not be announced as a reduced price for more than  a month; and (iii) announcements of price reductions may not last for less than  a day.3

This national legislation had the effect of prohibiting the announcement of price reductions whenever the strict conditions contained in that legislation were not met, even where such practices would not,  when examined individually, be considered misleading or unfair within the  meaning of Directive 2005/29.4

However, the UCPD establishes, in its Annex  I, an exhaustive list of 31 commercial practices which are regarded as unfair ‘in all circumstances.’ Consequently,  only these commercial practices can be deemed to be unfair without proceeding  to an assessment of their actual impact on consumers.


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The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations formally commenced on July 8, 2013. A little over a year later, the negotiators have held six rounds of negotiations. The most recent round of negotiations was held during the week of July 14-18 in Brussels, and the seventh round is now expected for D.C. in late September.

During July’s discussions, the two sides covered the full range of “market access” issues, including trade in goods, trade in services, investment, and government procurement. Negotiations included greater regulatory cooperation, widely considered to be the greatest value of the TTIP talks, with modest progress made in regards to several product sectors, including textiles and apparel (where they focused on labeling and safety issues), chemicals (where they discuss broad opportunities for cooperation), and automobiles (where talks advanced in areas like equivalence of technical regulations). Food safety also continued to be an important issue during negotiations, particularly with the leak of the EU’s proposed chapter on Sanitary and Phytosantiary Measures (SPS) prior to the start of the latest round.


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The European Commission has been active this summer in its efforts to advance consumer safety in the European Union. Here are highlights of recent notable events:

In-app Purchases. The EU has moved to address consumer protection related to in-app purchases, particularly those made by children, which follows the announcement of similar enforcement actions in the U.S. This is the first time that the Commission and member states have joined forces to coordinate enforcement, as provided for in the Consumer Protection Cooperation Regulation (No. 2006/2004). The authorities have requested that steps be taken to prevent inadvertent in-app purchases, such as adequately informing consumers about how purchases are made and paid for, and have asked for concrete solutions from industry actors, including Google and Apple.

BPA in Toys. On June 25, 2014, the Commission announced a strict limit for Bisphenol A (BPA) in toys intended for children under 3 years old or toys intended to be placed in the mouth (0.1 mg/l migration limit). This action makes mandatory the BPA limit in the existing toy standard, EN 71.


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