The European Union Treaty is a substantial antitrust and competition component that was built through much discussion, argument and agreement to specific details. The competition pages can be read, article by article at the European Union Competition site.
Article 102 of the treaty summarizes the law that covers abuse of a dominant position in the following words:
“Any abuse by one or more undertakings of a dominant position within the internal market or in a substantial part of it shall be prohibited as incompatible with the internal market in so far as it may affect trade between Member States.” This Article has been the source of many cases that either involve abuse of dominant position or are being explored as possible abuse because they are new situations that require more clarity and refinement of the law.
The first specific area of Article 102 includes directly or indirectly committing unfair purchase or selling prices or other unfair trading conditions.
The second specific area of article 102 involves limiting production, markets or technical development to the prejudice of consumer.
The third specific area in Article 102 involves applying dissimilar conditions to equivalent transactions with other trading parties, thereby placing them at a competitive disadvantage;
The fourth specific area involves making the conclusion of contracts subject to acceptance by the other parties of supplementary obligations which, by their nature or according to commercial usage, have no connection with the subject of such contracts.
Some EU antitrust complaints and lawsuits have resulted in sanctions and fines, while others may be seen as using the antitrust articles to cause trouble for competitors or enemies. Whether the dispute sets Wikileaks against Mastercard, HP against Oracle, one Credit Default Swap bank against another, or a small shopping site against Google, the issues will reach outside of the EU and will be active and lively for a long time. Here are some of the more prominent examples of specific cases involving Article 102 and abuse of dominant position:
Wikileaks and Data Cell v. Visa and MasterCard
In a well known cases, Wikileaks and Data Cell filed a lawsuit with the EU against Visa and MasterCard, which is accused of engaging in an unlawful financial blockade that is backed by the U.S.
Articles 101 and 102 are both cited in the Wikileaks complaints, according to PC World.
In late 2010, both Visa and MasterCard cut off credit card transactions for the two firms and refused to reinstate them. Of course, Data Cell was one of the services that was involved with funneling money to Wikileaks after the theft of U.S. diplomatic secrets, which is a crime against the U.S.
Spain, Hewlett Packard and Oracle
Eweek summarizes the Article 102 related allegations of anti competitive practices by Oracle, and mentions other cases against Microsoft, IBM and more.
Google’s dominant position as the major online search engine in the world has led to a long series of EU antitrust problems for the monster firm. As of August 2, there were 9 antitrust lawsuits against Google that have been accepted by the EU, and either Article 101 or Article 102 is at play in all of them.
In one case, according to ACGA, Google is accused of putting its own services ahead of the competition in search results, whether the competition paid for optimal search results placement or not.
Search Engine Watch describes the case of Deals Du Jour, a French daily deals company which was blocked from using Google AdSense to raise money. The Deals Du Jour website was also removed from Google’s search index. Google also has moved into the daily discount arena, but maintains that there must have been a violation of AdSense policies behind Deals Du Jour being kicked out of the system.