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EU: Court imposes strict compliance in shared platforms

 |  February 11, 2016

The European Court of Justice issued an interesting judgment on the extent to which existing antitrust price-fixing principles can be applied to interactions between the administrator of a shared technology platform and its users. Specifically, in the Eturas case, the ECJ had to consider the extent to which users’ involvement in an anticompetitive concerted practice initiated by the system administrator of a shared IT platform may be inferred simply from the fact that the administrator sent messages to users concerning pricing and centrally implemented technical rules that affected how users could display their prices.

The Court concluded that, as long as users were at least aware of such messages, such liability could be inferred as a matter of EU competition law. Users could nevertheless rebut this inference by proving that they had not in fact received or read the problematic message; publicly distanced themselves from the conduct; or systematically overridden the technical measures implemented by the administrator. Given the increasing popularity of shared IT platforms in many areas of the economy, and the interest in the potential of such platforms to facilitate collusion on the part of competition authorities, this judgment is a timely reminder of the need for caution to mitigate antitrust risk when operating or using such platforms.

Full content: International Law Office

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