The Competition Bureau has released its updated draft Intellectual Property Enforcement Guidelines for public consultation. The draft is similar to the September 2014 version, although it includes many more examples concerning patent settlements and standard-essential patents. The Competition Bureau has clarified that settlement agreements will be reviewed civilly, absent evidence of intent to fix prices, allocate markets or restrict output.
An Ontario jury recently found nine defendants not guilty of 60 charges of bid rigging and conspiracy to rig bids, following an eight-month trial and six days of deliberation. This case demonstrates that, while the Competition Bureau has been successful in using the immunity and leniency programmes and securing guilty pleas, it has been less successful in prosecuting criminal offences under the Competition Act.
The Federal Court of Appeal has ruled that the Competition Tribunal took too narrow an approach to the Competition Act's abuse of dominance provisions, sending the commissioner of competition's case against the Toronto Real Estate Board back to the tribunal for reconsideration. At issue is whether conduct not directed at a competitor can fall within the scope of the dominance provisions.
A court recently upheld the constitutionality of the misleading advertising and administrative monetary penalty provisions of the Competition Act, but dismissed most of the commissioner of competition's case against Chatr Wireless Inc and its parent company. Entities should take care that claims made in advertisements are not false or misleading, and that consumers' general impressions are considered before publication.
The Competition Tribunal recently announced its long-awaited decision in the commissioner of competition's case against Visa Canada Corporation and MasterCard International Incorporated. This is the tribunal's first decision interpreting the new civil price maintenance provision.
The Competition Tribunal recently rejected the commissioner of competition's argument that the Toronto Real Estate Board was engaging in anti-competitive acts contrary to Section 79 of the Competition Act. An interesting question arising from this case is whether behaviour that is harmful to competition generally, but which is not targeted specifically at a particular competitor, can ever be considered an abuse of dominance.
Stricter sentences have recently been introduced for criminal convictions under the Competition Act. As there will now be less flexibility in the sentences that can be agreed to, these changes will also affect the way that corporations and individuals work out plea agreements with the Competition Bureau and the director of public prosecutions.
The Safe Streets and Communities Act is relatively well known for the significant impact that it will have on a number of criminal statutes. Less well known, however, is the important effect that it will have on Canadians charged with violating the conspiracy and bid-rigging provisions of the Competition Act. This effect creates a new, US-style dynamic that may see the infamous Wall Street 'perp walks' become a Canadian business risk.