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September 24, 2014

Canada’s Competition Bureau (the “Bureau”) has been working over the past year or two to update its competition law compliance guidelines and policies. Competition law compliance has also figured prominently in recent remarks by Canada’s new Commissioner of Competition, John Pecman (see for example: here). As part of the Bureau’s initiative to raise competition compliance awareness, on September 18th the Bureau issued a revised draft Corporate Compliance Programs Bulletin for public comment (see: here and here).

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September 23, 2014

With a major bid-rigging trial commencing in Ottawa in the IT sector, ongoing auto parts bid-rigging/cartel investigations including record $5 million and $30 million bid-rigging fines in Canada (see e.g., here) and the Charbonneau Commission competition/corruption probe wrapping up in Quebec, it is increasingly important for bidders and tendering authorities to understand the basics of Canadian bid-rigging law. For governments and tendering authorities it is also important to enhance their abililties to detect coordinated bids and tenders. In this respect, I thought I would update my Canadian bid-rigging law page and add, among other things, a few key tips for tendering authorities to detect bid-rigging (see bottom of post).

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September 23, 2014

In the advertising law world, general impressions matter – a lot. In Canada, the federal Competition Act even includes specific sections that provide that the general impression of a claim (i.e., not merely the literal meaning of an advertising claim or what may be included in disclaimers or contracts) is to be taken into account by a court or the Competition Tribunal in determining whether or not a claim is false or misleading.

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September 21, 2014

Most association activities are legitimate and unlikely to raise competition law concerns.  However, given that many, if not most, trade and professional association activities involve the direct interaction of competitors, it is prudent for association executives, staff and their advisors to take practical steps to reduce potential competition law risk.

Trade and professional associations have also grown as a Competition Bureau priority over the past few years including several high profile association related enforcement matters, regular discussion of association activities in Bureau personnel speeches and new enforcement guidelines including the Bureau’s recently issued pamphlet Trade Associations and the Competition Act.  Some basic guidelines for associations to minimize potential criminal or civil competition law risk include:

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September 11, 2014

Well summer is certainly over. The weather is distinctly cooler and “fall-like” and in the competition/antitrust law world the number of cases and antitrust agency activity is increasing again.  In this respect, one interesting case that caught my eye earlier today was a German trade association case in which the German antitrust agency (the Bundeskartellamt) announced that it has imposed 6.2 million euros in further fines for alleged price-fixing by members of a concrete paving stone association and association executive (see: Bundeskartellamt imposes further fines on manufacturers of concrete paving stones on account of price-fixing agreements).

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September 10, 2014

An interesting new Cardus report released yesterday (authored by Stephen W. Bauld and Brian Dijkema), entitled Hiding in Plain Sight: Evaluating Closed Tendering in Construction Markets, argues against closed tendering in public construction procurement. The report also includes discussions of recent Charbonneau Commission developments, construction unions and purported arguments for closed tendering in public procurement (such as for “safety” or “qualification” reasons). One of the central conclusions of the report is that local rules that limit competitive tendering are diametrically opposed to the key principles of public procurement: openness, fairness and transparency. Well worth a read (abstract below with a link to the complete report).

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September 8, 2014

In an interesting case that caught my eye earlier today, the U.S. FTC announced a proposed settlement with Texas-based Applied Food Sciences Inc. (AFS) in relation to allegedly “baseless” green coffee extract weight loss claims.  According to the FTC, AFS, which sells a green coffee ingredient used in foods and dietary supplements, made public claims (including following publicity on the Dr. Oz Show) that subjects lost weight “without diet or exercise” using their product. These claims were based on an Indian clinical trial which, in the FTC’s view, was a “botched study” that didn’t prove anything.

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August 29, 2014

Earlier today, Canada’s Competition Bureau announced that it has launched a new Quarterly Report as part of its ongoing “Transparency Initiative” (i.e., to increase its communication to Canadians regarding the work the Bureau does). According to the Bureau, its new Quarterly Report “presents statistics relating to a variety of intake measures, merger and non-merger enforcement matters, as well as advocacy, outreach and partnership initiatives”.  I discuss a few key points below that caught my eye.

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August 29, 2014

WHAT ARE TRADEMARKS?

A mark (words, names, symbols, devices, sounds, smells, trade dress) used to distinguish the goods and services of one business from similar goods and services of all other businesses.

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