The General Court of the European Union has dismissed the actions of Philips and Infineon
22 December 2016
The General Court of the European Union has dismissed the actions of Philips and Infineon in the smart card chip market cartel.
On the 3rd of September 2014 the Commission imposed a fine of approximately €138 million on four companies. These companies were accused of forming a cartel for coordinating their conduct on the smart card chip market in the European Economic Area (EEA) from 2003 to 2005. The cartel functioned through a network of bilateral contacts and exchanges among the undertakings of commercially sensitive information relating in particular to prices.
In April 2011, the Commission initiated discussions with Renesas, Samsung and Philips, they were stopped in October 2012. Renesas was granted immunity for having informed the Commission of the existence of the cartel. Infineon obtained a reduction of 20% because its participation was limited to the arrangements with Samsung and Renesas. Samsung obtained a reduction of 30% for having provided information of significant value.
Infineon and Philips brought actions before the General Court of the European Union seeking the annulment of the Commission's decision. Those companies contest, firstly, the existence of a cartel and, secondly, the amounts of the fines imposed on them.
The Court argued that the Commission was correct to judge that Philips and Infineon had participated in anticompetitive practices. Concerning Infineon, even if it is not liable for the infringement as a whole, it must be held liable for the infringement to the extent that it engaged in unlawful contacts with Samsung and Renesas. The Court points out that a concerted practice must have as its object or effect the prevention, restriction or distortion of competition in the internal market.
As for the amount of the fine, the Court upholds the fine of €82 784 000 imposed on Infineon and that of €20 148 000 imposed on Philips, as well as the application of the 16% multiplier for gravity.