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Office of Competition and Consumer Protection

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New technologies - New challenges

< previous | next > 09.07.2009

New technologies - New challenges

Imposing unfair prices, discriminating other businesses or applying inconsistent contract terms are practices forbidden to market leaders. UOKiK has launched yet new proceedings to investigate possible restrictions of competition

Due to progressing computerization of the social and economic life, businesses today operate in a completely different environment than several years ago. Competition protection authorities must thus adjust their activities to the changes taking place in business operations in relation to new technologies. Many companies now use the possibilities provided by the Internet to offer increasingly advanced services. Nevertheless, regardless of what they deal in, they always have to remember about the prohibition of applying anticompetitive practices.

This is precisely what UOKiK is now investigating in its most recent proceedings against Amadeus Polska - which is the largest Polish on-line distributor of tourist products and services by means of the Global Distribution System (GDS). This system enables travel agencies to access information on services offered by tourist operators and make immediate bookings of e.g. airline tickets for their customers. At the same time, Amadeus is one of the producers an application, called mid-office, which enables travel agencies to use the data stored in the GDS system. Travel agencies can buy the application either from Amadeus Polska or its competitors. UOKiK is checking if Amadeus has not been using its market power to restrict competition.

The information collected recently by the Office proves that Amadeus has been charging disproportionately higher fees for accessing GDS database from travel agencies using mid-office applications of other producers. Consequently, it is not profitable for travel agencies to deal with producers other than Amadeus. Such a practice may prevent or hinder the development of competition on the mid-office software sale market and may lead to eliminating the other producers from the market.

If the accusations are confirmed, Amadeus Polska may be punished with a fine reaching up to 10% of its revenue obtained in the year preceding the decision.

Similar issues related to one-sided anticompetitive practices in the high-tech sector were discussed during a meeting held by UOKiK as part of the Central European Competition Initiative (CECI). The seminar topics included cases currently investigated by the European Commission in relation to the IT industry.

Speaking at the seminar, Melanie Sabo from the US Federal Trade Commission highlighted the problem of patenting computer and telecommunications technologies. Economic growth would not be possible without innovation, which in turn would not be possible without competition. Innovative application of science and know-how, improving products and tailoring them to consumers needs are challenges faced by every enterprise. At the same time, however, competitive products require proper protection. Copyright, patents, utility models, registered trademarks or licences - when properly applied - contribute to the company’s development and innovativeness, but they may also increase the costs for other enterprises and hinder competition.

The following persons participated in the event as speakers and resourse persons: Ma³gorzata Krasnodêbska-Tomkiel, President of UOKiK, Melanie Sabo from the Federal Trade Commission, Nicolas Petit and Jean Yves Art from the Liege University, Csaba Kovács from the Hungarian Competition Authority, Barbora Bednarova from the Czech Office for the Protection of Competition, Nikodem Szadkowski and Bartosz Ostrowski from UOKiK, Damian Kamiñski and Iratxe Gurpegui Ballesteros, representatives of the European Commission, Zuzana Mrazova from the Slovak Antimonopoly Office and Heinz Stefan Fischer from the Federal Competition Authority of Austria.

Additional information:
Ma³gorzata Cieloch, Spokesperson for UOKiK
Pl. Powstañców Warszawy 1, 00-950 Warsaw, Poland
Tel. (+48 22) 827 28 92, 55 60 106, 55 60 430
faks (+48 22) 826 11 86
E-mail: [SCODE]bWFsZ29yemF0YS5jaWVsb2NoQHVva2lrLmdvdi5wbA==[ECODE]

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