Abuse of market power still not permitted
Excessive pricing in relation to face masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE), disinfectants or respirators and similarly scarce products will receive scrutiny. Rumour has it that the ACM has already started a pandemic-related patent abuse investigation in the life sciences sector.
In the event of unjustified delivery cancellations, affected customers can apply for an interim injunction. The requirements are high for a successful injunction application.
In the long run, the Coronavirus crisis may increase the market shares of surviving companies, bringing them within the scope of the prohibition of abuse. Moreover, short-term shifts in supply and demand as a result of the crisis may also lead to a situation where companies temporarily gain a dominant market position due to changing market conditions. In this regard, it should be noted that limited transport capacity, higher transport costs and border closures could temporarily lead to narrower geographic markets, at least for the limited period of time that these extraordinary conditions prevail.
The ACM is an integrated competition and consumer law authority. This allows the ACM to choose the instrument of consumer protection law rather than competition law if it is more opportune. Investigations involving abuse of market power are often complex and time consuming. Consumer protection law may facilitate more effective and faster enforcement.