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EU Court of Justice rejects EFIM appeal

September 20, 2013

EU Court of JusticeEuropean Federation of Ink Cartridges and Ink Manufacturers (EFIM) appeal against 2008 EU Commission decision not to investigate OEM unfair competition practices rejected for the second time.

The EU Court of Justice in Luxembourg has rejected an appeal from EFIM against the decision by the EU Commission not to investigate claims that OEMs such as HP, Canon and Epson had “anti-competitive practices in the market for ink cartridges”; with the EU Commissions ruling that “the common interest is not sufficient to justify the continuation of the investigation” on 26 May 2008.

EFIM subsequently made an appeal against this decision to the EU Court of Justice, which upheld the decision of the EU Commission in November 2011,  granting it a “free hand” to decide whether to investigate the complaint of violations of competition or not.

A further appeal from EFIM was then filed to the EU Court of Justice in January 2012, with the group citing five pleas against the original verdict with the aim of persuading the court to “set aside the judgement under appeal”, uphold the application lodged before the Court and annul the contested decision, and rule that “the Commission and Lexmark pay the costs incurred before the Court and Court”.

The Commission meanwhile contended that the appeal should be dismissed and EFIM should be made to pay the costs incurred from the appeal, arguing that EFIM “was confined to repeating the arguments put forward in the first instance” and had not provided sufficient evidence of any specific violation.

On 19 September 2013, the EU Court of Justice rejected the EFIM’s appeal due to the fact that none of the five pleas were upheld in court, and ruled that EFIM must pay the costs incurred during the appeal process.

Commenting on the decision, Vincent van Dijk, Secretary General of ETIRA, said: “Basically, the EU Court decision in appeal again says that the EU Commission was right when it decided back in 2008 that the matter is not big enough to warrant the costs of a fully fledged investigation into the competitive behaviour of printer manufacturers in the EU market.

“ETIRA regrets this decision, as such an investigation would have provided a good opportunity to expose some of the negative effects of anti-remanufacturing strategies like clever chips on the overall prices of cartridges.

“But the market has moved on since, and in our view the EU Commission should focus its attention now on the dumping practices by exporters from Southeast Asia. Many of them sell patent-infringing new-builts in Europe below the cost of production, or below the domestic sale price. OEM’s should file a request to the EU Commission to investigate this practice, and call for action.”

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