Would an agreement amongst FIFA sponsors to terminate their sponsorship agreements be caught by the EU's antitrust rules and potentially be an unlawful collective boycott? If and to the extent that any of the sponsoring companies are actual or potential competitors (in the market for sponsorship of major sporting events), then arguably it might be. Whether or not it would be unlawful would likely depend upon whether acting collectively was indispensable to achieving the (presumably desirable) objective of regime change at FIFA.
The European Commission's investigation into e-commerce will officially start next month, which means that formal requests for information will start to land in people's inboxes/in trays immediately. Whether and how to respond to such requests will depend upon the nature and focus of the request and your business activities.
Ultimately, the inquiry will be relevant to every business that sells or facilitates the sale of goods or services online in the EU. It will also cover digital content.
The purpose of the inquiry is to help the Commission to understand and tackle barriers to cross-border e-commerce. Currently, only 15% of consumers purchased online from a seller based in another EU Member State and the Commission considers that to be a problem. Things the investigation will be looking out for include:
contractual or other restrictions on reselling online
restrictions on reselling online freely across the whole of the EU
geo-blocking on the basis of residence or credit card details
price adaptation to minimise incentives for online selling
other disguised restrictions on online selling (eg. quality or 'touch and try' provisions)
These sorts of investigations generally involve a large information gathering phase (the Commission will dispatch numerous detailed questionnaires with mandatory deadlines for response); a processing and review stage; and then further competition infringement investigations where there is evidence that the EU's competition rules may have been infringed.
The closest scrutiny will initially fall on areas where e-commerce is the most developed, such as clothing, consumer electronics and digital content. However, other areas such as books, healthcare products and travel services are also in the Commission's sights.
If you would like more information about what this might mean for your business, get in touch now. We can help you to identify and manage potential risks before the investigation really gets going.