Antitrust Counseling & Litigation

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Abuse of Dominance

Our team is routinely involved in counseling on the most complex dominance issues, often in business areas critical to our clients. We have, for example, restructured the distribution systems and rebate policies of several leading companies and offered day-to-day counseling to undertakings in the telecommunications, high-tech, energy, tobacco, automotive, agricultural and commodities sectors. We have particular experience in counseling firms on issues involving potential dominance in relation to IP, technology, and aftermarkets. Our objective is always to reduce risk without hindering our clients’ pursuit of their commercial objectives.

We also have extensive experience advising in the context of abuse of dominance investigations, both at the EU level and before various national authorities. In most cases, our work has been on the defense side. However, we have also successfully submitted complaints to various competition authorities.

Joint Ventures and Competitor Collaborations

In addition to standard joint venture counseling – from commercial alliances to autonomous entities requiring notification under the EU Merger Regulation – we offer a range of services in relation to competitor collaborations. These extend from the relatively straightforward: day-to-day counseling for trade associations, to the highly technical: advice to merchant bank consortia in relation to the establishment of trading platforms and to patent pools in relation to their operation and licensing activities. In between, we counsel clients regularly on joint purchasing, licensing and distribution via competitors and information sharing.

Distribution

Our team has a thorough knowledge of a wide range of distribution models, including online distribution, agency arrangements, exclusive and non-exclusive distribution, franchising and selective distribution. As a result, we can advise clients seeking to select the appropriate model for their operations, as well as those seeking to maximize existing models. We can draft or review the agreements that constitute the backbone of a client’s distribution networks.

Cartels

Our European competition law team has extensive experience with cartel procedures, at both EU and national levels (including Belgium, Spain, the Netherlands and the U.K.), and are currently representing several clients in ongoing cartel investigations. Our experience includes multinational leniency applications, covering the EU and other jurisdictions, and conducting settlement discussions both at European and national levels.

In addition to traditional horizontal cartels, we have particular experience in cases involving allegations of information exchange and hub-and-spoke style collusion between suppliers and distributors. In terms of relevant sectors, our lawyers have acted in investigations concerning air cargo, consumer goods, construction, agriculture, telecoms and a range of chemicals products.

Litigation

Litigation experience is at the heart of much of what we do. We regularly litigate before national and EU courts in competition law matters. The issues involved range from patent settlements and state aid to distribution questions and pricing questions relating to dominance.

Crowell & Moring lawyers have been involved in more than 50 cases before the EU courts in Luxembourg. We have extensive experience of how to bring a claim, how to intervene, how to claim damages and with preliminary references to the Court of Justice of the European Union from national courts.

Our Team

Our lawyers combine their thorough knowledge of competition law with skills acquired through their work for a broad range of industries.

“Clients appreciate that the team’s ‘first impulse is not to tell you what you cannot do, but to try to find a legal way of doing what you want to do’.” Chambers Europe, 2021

Thomas De Meese “is praised by clients for being ‘straight to the point and giving very practical answers,’ as well as being ‘very responsive and business-oriented’.” Chambers Europe, 2021

Representative Matters

  • Advised leading U.S. and European investment banks, including Goldman Sachs and others, in relation to the establishment, management, and sale of trading platform for derivatives, foreign exchange, and other products as well as related software and back-office functions.
  • Advised a leading worldwide organizer of patent pools in relation to the operation of its pools, its licensing activities, and its general compliance.
  • Advised a leading European power exchange in relation to a dispute with its competitors in the context of rules governing the establishment of a joint trading platform.
  • Successfully represented a telecoms operator in its dispute with an industry trade association over membership and access to information.
  • Advised a major supplier of capsule coffee systems in relation to all aspects of its distribution, pricing, and licensing models.
  • Successfully advised the same company in relation to complaints of abuse of dominance made to an EFTA regulator, resulting in the closing of the file without detailed investigation.
  • Successfully advised a market-leading paper manufacturer in relation to various disputes involving allegations of abuse of dominance resulting, among others, in a supplier offering improved discount terms.
  • Advised the U.K. subsidiary of a leading German manufacturer of power tools in relation to its online distribution model.
  • Advised a number of parties involved in cartel investigations involving allegations of information sharing.
  • Represented the generics industry in relation to strategic litigation concerning the assessment of patent settlement agreements under EU competition law.

View More

"Belgium to Introduce Foreign Direct Investment Screening Regime by 2023," Antitrust Law Alert (June 22, 2022). Contacts: Karel Bourgeois, Karl Stas, Julie van Hevele
Client Alert/Newsletter
"Revision of Horizontal Block Exemption Regulations and the Horizontal Cooperation Guidelines," Crowell & Moring Webinar, 2022. (June 9, 2022). Speakers: Thomas De Meese, Karel Bourgeois, and Karl Stas.
Speech/Presentation
"EU Commission Adopts New Rules for Distribution Agreements: What’s to Come for Distribution Relationships in the Digital Age?," Antitrust Law 'In The News' (May 18, 2022). Contacts: Thomas De Meese, Marieke Van Nieuwenborgh
Client Alert/Newsletter
"Digital Markets Act: EU Institutions Agree on New Rules to Curb the Power Of “Big Tech” Platforms," Antitrust Law Alert (May 17, 2022). Contacts: Thomas De Meese, Karl Stas, Yaël Rager
Client Alert/Newsletter
"EU Competition Authorities Respond to Ukraine Crisis: More Flexibility for State Aid and Cooperation Among Companies," Antitrust Law Alert (March 30, 2022). Contacts: Karel Bourgeois, Flavie Van Maldegem
Client Alert/Newsletter
"Adjusting Competition Policy To The Digital And Green Transition: The European Commission Publishes Draft New Rules For Cooperation Between Competitors," Antitrust Law Alert (March 24, 2022). Contacts: Thomas De Meese, Karl Stas, Flavie Van Maldegem
Client Alert/Newsletter
"Perspectives from the Belgian Competition Authority," Crowell & Moring Webinar, 2022. (March 23, 2022). Moderators: Thomas De Meese and Karel Bourgeois.
Speech/Presentation
"Belgian Competition Act Amended to Introduce Merger Filing Fees, Fines for Failure to Notify and Procedural Changes," Antitrust Law Alert (March 14, 2022). Contacts: Karel Bourgeois, Karl Stas, Flavie Van Maldegem
Client Alert/Newsletter
"Crowell & Moring Co-Hosts Conference Highlighting Issues DOJ and FTC Will Focus on Revised Merger Guidelines," Antitrust Law Alert (December 17, 2021). Contacts: Alexis J. Gilman, Shawn R. Johnson, Jeane A. Thomas, CIPP/E, Andrew I. Gavil, Kate M. Watkins, Aryeh Mellman
Client Alert/Newsletter
"Competition Law in Times of Price Increases and Supply Shortages," Crowell & Moring Webinar. (December 7, 2021). Speakers: Karel Bourgeois and Karl Stas.
Speech/Presentation

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Crowell & Moring LLP is an international law firm with offices in the United States, Europe, MENA, and Asia that represents clients in litigation and arbitration, regulatory and policy, and transactional and corporate matters. The firm is internationally recognized for its representation of Fortune 500 companies in high-stakes litigation and government-facing matters, as well as its ongoing commitment to pro bono service and diversity, equity, and inclusion.

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