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Document 61978CJ0022

Judgment of the Court of 31 May 1979.
Hugin Kassaregister AB and Hugin Cash Registers Ltd v Commission of the European Communities.
Spare parts for cash registers.
Case 22/78.

European Court Reports 1979 -01869

ECLI identifier: ECLI:EU:C:1979:138

61978J0022

Judgment of the Court of 31 May 1979. - Hugin Kassaregister AB and Hugin Cash Registers Ltd v Commission of the European Communities. - Spare parts for cash registers. - Case 22/78.

European Court reports 1979 Page 01869
Greek special edition Page 00951
Spanish special edition Page 00995


Summary
Parties
Subject of the case
Grounds
Decision on costs
Operative part

Keywords


1 . COMPETITION - DOMINANT POSITION - MARKET IN QUESTION - MARKET FOR SPARE PARTS - DEFINITION

( EEC TREATY , ART . 86 )

2 . COMPETITION - DOMINANT POSITION - CONCEPT

( EEC TREATY , ART . 86 )

3 . COMPETITION - AGREEMENTS AND DOMINANT POSITION - EFFECTS ON TRADE BETWEEN MEMBER STATES - CONDITION FOR THE APPLICATION OF COMMUNITY RULES

( EEC TREATY , ARTS . 85 AND 86 )

4 . COMPETITION - DOMINANT POSITION - ABUSE - EFFECTS ON TRADE BETWEEN MEMBER STATES - CONDITION - ACTUAL OR POTENTIAL EXISTENCE OF NORMAL PATTERN OF TRADE BETWEEN THE MEMBER STATES

( EEC TREATY , ART . 86 )

Summary


1 . TO DETERMINE WHETHER AN UNDERTAKING OCCUPIES A DOMINANT POSITION IT IS NECESSARY FIRST TO DETERMINE THE RELEVANT MARKET . AS REGARDS THE SUPPLY OF SPARE PARTS IT IS NECESSARY TO ASCERTAIN , TO THAT END , WHETHER SUCH SUPPLY CONSTITUTES A SPECIFIC MARKET OR WHETHER IT FORMS PART OF A WIDER MARKET . TO ANSWER THAT QUESTION IT IS NECESSARY TO DETERMINE THE CATEGORY OF CLIENTS WHO REQUIRE SUCH PARTS .

2 . THE MANUFACTURER OF A PRODUCT OCCUPIES A DOMINANT POSITION WHEN IT IS IN A POSITION WHICH ENABLES IT TO DETERMINE ITS CONDUCT WITHOUT TAKING ACCOUNT OF COMPETING SOURCES OF SUPPLY .

3 . THE INTERPRETATION AND APPLICATION OF THE CONDITION RELATING TO EFFECTS ON TRADE BETWEEN MEMBER STATES CONTAINED IN ARTICLES 85 AND 86 OF THE TREATY MUST BE BASED ON THE PURPOSE OF THAT CONDITION WHICH IS TO DEFINE , IN THE CONTEXT OF THE LAW GOVERNING COMPETITION , THE BOUNDARY BETWEEN THE AREAS RESPECTIVELY COVERED BY COMMUNITY LAW AND THE LAW OF THE MEMBER STATES . THUS COMMUNITY LAW COVERS ANY AGREEMENT OR ANY PRACTICE WHICH IS CAPABLE OF CONSTITUTING A THREAT TO FREEDOM OF TRADE BETWEEN MEMBER STATES IN A MANNER WHICH MIGHT HARM THE ATTAINMENT OF THE OBJECTIVES OF A SINGLE MARKET BETWEEN THE MEMBER STATES , IN PARTICULAR BY PARTITIONING THE NATIONAL MARKETS OR BY AFFECTING THE STRUCTURE OF COMPETITION WITHIN THE COMMON MARKET . ON THE OTHER HAND CONDUCT THE EFFECTS OF WHICH ARE CONFINED TO THE TERRITORY OF A SINGLE MEMBER STATE IS GOVERNED BY THE NATIONAL LEGAL ORDER .

4 . IF THE RESTRICTIVE SALES POLICY OF A PRODUCER PREVENTS A POTENTIAL CLIENT , ESTABLISHED IN THE SAME MEMBER STATE , FROM SATISFYING ITS SPARE PARTS REQUIREMENTS THROUGH NORMAL COMMERCIAL CHANNELS , THAT IS TO SAY ON THE NATIONAL MARKET , AND IT IS THUS INDUCED TO ATTEMPT TO OBTAIN THE PRODUCT IN QUESTION IN THE OTHER MEMBER STATES , THOSE ATTEMPTS CANNOT BE REGARDED AS AN INDICATION OF THE EXISTENCE , WHETHER ACTUAL OR POTENTIAL , OF A NORMAL PATTERN OF TRADE BETWEEN THE MEMBER STATES IN THE PRODUCT . IN THOSE CIRCUMSTANCES THE PRODUCER ' S CONDUCT IS NOT CAPABLE OF AFFECTING TRADE BETWEEN MEMBER STATES WITHIN THE MEANING OF ARTICLE 86 OF THE TREATY .

Parties


IN CASE 22/78

1 . HUGIN KASSAREGISTER AB , STOCKHOLM ,

2 . HUGIN CASH REGISTERS LTD , LONDON ,

REPRESENTED BY WALTER VAN GERVEN AND ( FOR THE WRITTEN PROCEDURE ) JEAN-FRANCOIS BELLIS , OF THE BRUSSELS BAR , WITH AN ADDRESS FOR SERVICE IN LUXEMBOURG AT THE CHAMBERS OF MESSRS ELVINGER AND HOSS , 84 GRAND-RUE ,

APPLICANTS ,

V

COMMISSION OF THE EUROPEAN COMMUNITIES , REPRESENTED BY ITS LEGAL ADVISER , JOHN TEMPLE LANG , ACTING AS AGENT , WITH AN ADDRESS FOR SERVICE IN LUXEMBOURG AT THE OFFICE OF ITS LEGAL ADVISER , MARIO CERVINO , JEAN MONNET BUILDING , KIRCHBERG ,

DEFENDANT ,

Subject of the case


APPLICATION FOR THE ANNULMENT OF COMMISSION DECISION NO 78/68/EEC OF 8 DECEMBER 1977 RELATING TO A PROCEEDING UNDER ARTICLE 86 OF THE EEC TREATY ( IV/29.132 HUGIN/LIPTONS ) ( OFFICIAL JOURNAL , L 22 OF 27 JANUARY 1978 , P . 23 ),

Grounds


1BY AN APPLICATION LODGED ON 24 FEBRUARY 1978 THE SWEDISH COMPANY HUGIN KASSAREGISTER AB AND ITS BRITISH SUBSIDIARY HUGIN CASH REGISTERS LTD ., HEREINAFTER REFERRED TO JOINTLY AS ' ' HUGIN ' ' , SEEK PRIMARILY , THE ANNULMENT OF THE COMMISSION DECISION OF 8 DECEMBER 1977 RELATING TO A PROCEEDING UNDER ARTICLE 86 OF THE EEC TREATY ( OFFICIAL JOURNAL , L 22 OF 27 JANUARY 1978 , PP . 23 TO 35 ). IN THE ALTERNATIVE THEY SEEK THE CANCELLATION OR REDUCTION OF THE FINE IMPOSED ON THE TWO COMPANIES JOINTLY BY THAT DECISION .

2ARTICLE 1 OF THAT DECISION STATES THAT HUGIN HAS INFRINGED ARTICLE 86 BY REFUSING TO SUPPLY SPARE PARTS FOR HUGIN CASH REGISTERS TO LIPTONS CASH REGISTERS AND BUSINESS EQUIPMENT LTD , WHICH HAS ITS REGISTERED OFFICE IN LONDON , AS FROM 1 JANUARY 1973 . IT FURTHER STATES THAT HUGIN KASSAREGISTER AB HAS ALSO INFRINGED ARTICLE 86 BY PROHIBITING ITS SUBSIDIARIES AND DISTRIBUTORS WITHIN THE COMMON MARKET FROM SELLING SUCH SPARE PARTS OUTSIDE ITS DISTRIBUTION NETWORK . IN THE GROUNDS FOR ITS DECISION THE COMMISSION STATES THAT HUGIN OCCUPIES A DOMINANT POSITION WITHIN THE MEANING OF ARTICLE 86 , THAT IT HAS ABUSED THAT POSITION AND THAT TRADE BETWEEN THE MEMBER STATES MAY BE AFFECTED THEREBY .

HUGIN ' S POSITION ON THE MARKET

3AS REGARDS THE QUESTION WHETHER HUGIN OCCUPIES A DOMINANT POSITION ON THE MARKET THE COMMISSION TAKES THE VIEW THAT THE FACTS OF THE CASE HAVE SHOWN THAT WHILE HUGIN HAS ONLY A RELATIVELY SMALL SHARE OF THE CASH REGISTER MARKET - WHICH IS VERY COMPETITIVE - IT HAS A MONOPOLY IN SPARE PARTS FOR MACHINES MADE BY IT AND THAT CONSEQUENTLY IT OCCUPIES A DOMINANT POSITION FOR THE MAINTENANCE AND REPAIR OF HUGIN CASH REGISTERS IN RELATION TO INDEPENDENT COMPANIES WHICH NEED A SUPPLY OF HUGIN SPARE PARTS . AS REGARDS THE RECONDITIONING OF USED MACHINES AND THE RENTING OUT OF SUCH MACHINES THE COMMISSION ALSO TAKES THE VIEW THAT HUGIN OCCUPIES A DOMINANT POSITION AS REGARDS CASH REGISTERS OF ITS OWN MANUFACTURE , SINCE UNDERTAKINGS ENGAGED IN SUCH ACTIVITIES DEPEND ON SUPPLIES OF HUGIN SPARE PARTS .

4HUGIN CONTESTS THE VALIDITY OF THE COMMISSION ' S FINDINGS ON THESE VARIOUS POINTS . IN ITS PRINCIPAL ARGUMENT IT STATES THAT THE SUPPLY OF SPARE PARTS AND OF MAINTENANCE SERVICES IS CERTAINLY NOT A SEPARATE MARKET BUT IS AN ESSENTIAL PARAMETER OF COMPETITION IN THE MARKET FOR CASH REGISTERS AS A WHOLE . IT STATES THAT ON THAT MARKET AFTER-SALES SERVICE AND THE QUALITY OF REPAIR AND MAINTENANCE SERVICES , INCLUDING THE SUPPLY OF SPARE PARTS , CONSTITUTE SUCH A SIGNIFICANT COMPETITIVE FACTOR THAT HUGIN RUNS THOSE SERVICES AT A LOSS .

5TO RESOLVE THE DISPUTE IT IS NECESSARY , FIRST , TO DETERMINE THE RELEVANT MARKET . IN THIS RESPECT ACCOUNT MUST BE TAKEN OF THE FACT THAT THE CONDUCT ALLEGED AGAINST HUGIN CONSISTS IN THE REFUSAL TO SUPPLY SPARE PARTS TO LIPTONS AND , GENERALLY , TO ANY INDEPENDENT UNDERTAKING OUTSIDE ITS DISTRIBUTION NETWORK . THE QUESTION IS , THEREFORE , WHETHER THE SUPPLY OF SPARE PARTS CONSTITUTES A SPECIFIC MARKET OR WHETHER IT FORMS PART OF A WIDER MARKET . TO ANSWER THAT QUESTION IT IS NECESSARY TO DETERMINE THE CATEGORY OF CLIENTS WHO REQUIRE SUCH PARTS .

6IN THIS RESPECT IT IS ESTABLISHED , ON THE ONE HAND , THAT CASH REGISTERS ARE OF SUCH A TECHNICAL NATURE THAT THE USER CANNOT FIT THE SPARE PARTS INTO THE MACHINE BUT REQUIRES THE SERVICES OF A SPECIALIZED TECHNICIAN AND , ON THE OTHER , THAT THE VALUE OF THE SPARE PARTS IS OF LITTLE SIGNIFICANCE IN RELATION TO THE COST OF MAINTENANCE AND REPAIRS . THAT BEING THE CASE , USERS OF CASH REGISTERS DO NOT OPERATE ON THE MARKET AS PURCHASERS OF SPARE PARTS , HOWEVER THEY HAVE THEIR MACHINES MAINTAINED AND REPAIRED . WHETHER THEY AVAIL THEMSELVES OF HUGIN ' S AFTER-SALES SERVICE OR WHETHER THEY RELY ON INDEPENDENT UNDERTAKINGS ENGAGED IN MAINTENANCE AND REPAIR WORK , THEIR SPARE PART REQUIREMENTS ARE NOT MANIFESTED DIRECTLY AND INDEPENDENTLY ON THE MARKET . WHILE THERE CERTAINLY EXISTS AMONGST USERS A MARKET FOR MAINTENANCE AND REPAIRS WHICH IS DISTINCT FROM THE MARKET IN NEW CASH REGISTERS , IT IS ESSENTIALLY A MARKET FOR THE PROVISION OF SERVICES AND NOT FOR THE SALE OF A PRODUCT SUCH AS SPARE PARTS , THE REFUSAL TO SUPPLY WHICH FORMS THE SUBJECT-MATTER OF THE COMMISSION ' S DECISION .

7ON THE OTHER HAND , THERE EXISTS A SEPARATE MARKET FOR HUGIN SPARE PARTS AT ANOTHER LEVEL , NAMELY THAT OF INDEPENDENT UNDERTAKINGS WHICH SPECIALIZE IN THE MAINTENANCE AND REPAIR OF CASH REGISTERS , IN THE RECONDITIONING OF USED MACHINES AND IN THE SALE OF USED MACHINES AND THE RENTING OUT OF MACHINES . THE ROLE OF THOSE UNDERTAKINGS ON THE MARKET IS THAT OF BUSINESSES WHICH REQUIRE SPARE PARTS FOR THEIR VARIOUS ACTIVITIES . THEY NEED SUCH PARTS IN ORDER TO PROVIDE SERVICES FOR CASH REGISTER USERS IN THE FORM OF MAINTENANCE AND REPAIRS AND FOR THE RECONDITIONING OF USED MACHINES INTENDED FOR RE-SALE OR RENTING OUT . FINALLY , THEY REQUIRE SPARE PARTS FOR THE MAINTENANCE AND REPAIR OF NEW OR USED MACHINES BELONGING TO THEM WHICH ARE RENTED OUT TO THEIR CLIENTS . IT IS , MOREOVER , ESTABLISHED THAT THERE IS A SPECIFIC DEMAND FOR HUGIN SPARE PARTS , SINCE THOSE PARTS ARE NOT INTERCHANGEABLE WITH SPARE PARTS FOR CASH REGISTERS OF OTHER MAKES .

8CONSEQUENTLY THE MARKET THUS CONSTITUTED BY HUGIN SPARE PARTS REQUIRED BY INDEPENDENT UNDERTAKINGS MUST BE REGARDED AS THE RELEVANT MARKET FOR THE PURPOSES OF THE APPLICATION OF ARTICLE 86 OF THE FACTS OF THE CASE . IT IS IN FACT THE MARKET ON WHICH THE ALLEGED ABUSE WAS COMMITTED .

9IT IS NECESSARY TO EXAMINE NEXT WHETHER HUGIN OCCUPIES A DOMINANT POSITION ON THAT MARKET . IN THIS RESPECT HUGIN ADMITS THAT IT HAS A MONOPOLY IN NEW SPARE PARTS . FOR COMMERCIAL REASONS ANY COMPETING PRODUCTION OF SPARE PARTS WHICH COULD BE USED IN HUGIN CASH REGISTERS IS NOT CONCEIVABLE IN PRACTICE . HUGIN ARGUES NEVERTHELESS THAT ANOTHER SOURCE OF SUPPLY DOES EXIST , NAMELY THE PURCHASE AND DISMANTLING OF USED MACHINES . THE VALUE OF THAT SOURCE OF SUPPLY IS DISPUTED BY THE PARTIES . ALTHOUGH THE FILE APPEARS TO SHOW THAT THE PRACTICE OF DISMANTLING USED MACHINES IS CURRENT IN THE CASH REGISTER SECTOR IT CANNOT BE REGARDED AS CONSTITUTING A SUFFICIENT ALTERNATIVE SOURCE OF SUPPLY . INDEED THE FIGURES RELATING TO LIPTONS ' TURNOVER DURING THE YEARS WHEN HUGIN REFUSED TO SELL SPARE PARTS TO IT SHOW THAT LIPTONS ' BUSINESS IN THE SELLING , RENTING OUT AND REPAIRING OF HUGIN MACHINES DIMINISHED CONSIDERABLY , NOT ONLY WHEN EXPRESSED IN ABSOLUTE TERMS BUT EVEN MORE SO IN REAL TERMS , TAKING INFLATION INTO ACCOUNT .

10ON THE MARKET FOR ITS OWN SPARE PARTS , THEREFORE , HUGIN IS IN A POSITION WHICH ENABLES IT TO DETERMINE ITS CONDUCT WITHOUT TAKING ACCOUNT OF COMPETING SOURCES OF SUPPLY . THERE IS THEREFORE NOTHING TO INVALIDATE THE CONCLUSION THAT IT OCCUPIES , ON THAT MARKET , A DOMINANT POSITION WITHIN THE MEANING OF ARTICLE 86 .

HUGIN ' S CONDUCT ON THE MARKET

11THE COMMISSION TAKES THE VIEW THAT HUGIN ABUSED ITS DOMINANT POSITION BY REFUSING TO SUPPLY SPARE PARTS TO LIPTONS AND , GENERALLY , TO ANY INDEPENDENT UNDERTAKING OUTSIDE ITS OWN DISTRIBUTION NETWORK . THAT PRACTICE , WHICH RESULTS FROM HUGIN ' S POLICY OF RESTRICTING THE MAINTENANCE AND REPAIR OF HUGIN CASH REGISTERS TO ITS OWN TECHNICAL DEPARTMENTS , IS SAID TO CONSTITUTE AN ABUSE IN THAT ITS EFFECT IS TO PREVENT USERS OF HUGIN MACHINES FROM CHOOSING FREELY THE UNDERTAKING WHICH IS TO SERVICE AND REPAIR THOSE MACHINES AND IN THAT IT HAS THE EFFECT OF EXCLUDING ANY COMPETITION , AND IN PARTICULAR A SUBSTANTIAL COMPETITOR , IN THE SECTOR OF THE SERVICING , MAINTENANCE , REPAIR , RENTING OUT AND RECONDITIONING OF HUGIN MACHINES .

12HUGIN ALLEGES THAT THOSE STATEMENTS ARE UNFOUNDED . IN ITS VIEW THE PRACTICE IN QUESTION DID NOT SUBSTANTIALLY RESTRICT COMPETITION AND HAS NOT ELIMINATED LIPTONS FROM THE MARKET OR THREATENED ITS EXISTENCE . THAT PRACTICE IS , MOREOVER , OBJECTIVELY JUSTIFIED BY LEGITIMATE CONSIDERATIONS RELATING TO THE COMMERCIAL POLICY ADOPTED BY HUGIN , WHICH ENTAILS PROVIDING MAINTENANCE AND REPAIR SERVICES OF THE HIGHEST QUALITY .

13MORE PARTICULARLY , HUGIN STATES THAT IT SEEKS TO RESERVE MAINTENANCE AND REPAIR SERVICES TO ITSELF NOT AS PROFITABLE OPERATIONS IN THEMSELVES BUT IN ORDER TO MAINTAIN THE GOOD REPUTATION FOR RELIABILITY OF ITS CASH REGISTERS IN THE FACE OF COMPETITION FROM OTHER MAKES WHICH , IT ALLEGES , IS EVIDENCED BY THE FACT THAT IT MAINTAINS THOSE SERVICES AT A LOSS . HUGIN EXPLAINS , FURTHERMORE , THAT IT IS NOT ENGAGED IN THE MARKET IN USED CASH REGISTERS OR THAT OF RENTING OUT CASH REGISTERS AND THAT IT OFFERED TO SUPPLY LIPTONS WITH THE SPARE PARTS IT NEEDED TO RECONDITION USED MACHINES . NEVERTHELESS , IN ACCORDANCE WITH ITS COMMERCIAL POLICY , HUGIN WISHES TO RESERVE TO ITS OWN TECHNICAL DEPARTMENTS THE MAINTENANCE AND REPAIR OF ALL HUGIN CASH REGISTERS , EVEN THOSE SOLD SECOND-HAND OR RENTED OUT BY INDEPENDENT UNDERTAKINGS .

14IN VIEW OF THIS DISPUTE BETWEEN THE PARTIES IT IS NECESSARY , IN THIS CASE , TO EXAMINE FIRST WHETHER THE CONDITION LAID DOWN BY ARTICLE 86 OF THE TREATY FOR THE CONDUCT IN QUESTION TO BE COVERED BY COMMUNITY LAW IS FULFILLED . ARTICLE 86 STIPULATES THAT THE PROHIBITION LAID DOWN THEREIN IS APPLICABLE ONLY IN SO FAR AS THE CONDUCT REGARDED AS AN ABUSE OF A DOMINANT POSITION OCCUPIED BY AN UNDERTAKING ON THE MARKET MAY AFFECT TRADE BETWEEN MEMBER STATES .

THE EFFECTS ON TRADE BETWEEN THE MEMBER STATES

15IN ITS DECISION THE COMMISSION STATED THAT ' ' LIPTONS HAS BEEN PREVENTED FROM CONTINUING TO EXPAND ITS BUSINESS WITHIN A SUBSTANTIAL PART OF THE COMMON MARKET AND IS UNABLE TO PURCHASE SPARE PARTS FROM OTHER MEMBER STATES ' ' . ACCORDING TO THE COMMISSION THE DISTRIBUTION SYSTEM PRACTISED BY HUGIN ' ' HAS AN APPRECIABLE EFFECT ON THE STRUCTURE OF COMPETITION WITHIN THE COMMON MARKET ' ' .

16HUGIN CONTESTS THE VALIDITY OF THOSE STATEMENTS . ACCORDING TO HUGIN LIPTONS ' ACTIVITIES DO NOT EXTEND BEYOND A SINGLE MEMBER STATE AND THERE DOES NOT REALLY EXIST A MARKET FOR SPARE PARTS EXTENDING BEYOND THE TERRITORY OF EACH MEMBER STATE .

17THE INTERPRETATION AND APPLICATION OF THE CONDITION RELATING TO EFFECTS ON TRADE BETWEEN MEMBER STATES CONTAINED IN ARTICLES 85 AND 86 OF THE TREATY MUST BE BASED ON THE PURPOSE OF THAT CONDITION WHICH IS TO DEFINE , IN THE CONTEXT OF THE LAW GOVERNING COMPETITION , THE BOUNDARY BETWEEN THE AREAS RESPECTIVELY COVERED BY COMMUNITY LAW AND THE LAW OF THE MEMBER STATES . THUS COMMUNITY LAW COVERS ANY AGREEMENT OR ANY PRACTICE WHICH IS CAPABLE OF CONSTITUTING A THREAT TO FREEDOM OF TRADE BETWEEN MEMBER STATES IN A MANNER WHICH MIGHT HARM THE ATTAINMENT OF THE OBJECTIVES OF A SINGLE MARKET BETWEEN THE MEMBER STATES , IN PARTICULAR BY PARTITIONING THE NATIONAL MARKETS OR BY AFFECTING THE STRUCTURE OF COMPETITION WITHIN THE COMMON MARKET . ON THE OTHER HAND CONDUCT THE EFFECTS OF WHICH ARE CONFINED TO THE TERRITORY OF A SINGLE MEMBER STATE IS GOVERNED BY THE NATIONAL LEGAL ORDER .

18FOR THE PURPOSE OF APPLYING THESE CRITERIA TO THE FACTS IN THIS CASE IT IS NECESSARY TO EXAMINE SEPARATELY THE EFFECTS ON LIPTONS ' COMMERCIAL ACTIVITIES , ON THE ONE HAND , AND ON TRADE IN SPARE PARTS IN GENERAL , ON THE OTHER .

19IT IS ESTABLISHED THAT THE CENTRE OF LIPTONS ' ACTIVITIES IS THE LONDON REGION AND THAT , IN ANY EVENT , ITS COMMERCIAL ACTIVITIES HAVE NEVER EXTENDED BEYOND THE UNITED KINGDOM . AS REGARDS THE FUTURE , THERE IS NO INDICATION THAT LIPTONS ENVISAGES EXTENDING ITS ACTIVITIES BEYOND THOSE GEOGRAPHICAL LIMITS . THAT LIMITATION IS EXPLAINED , MOREOVER , BY THE PARTICULAR NATURE OF THE ACTIVITIES IN QUESTION . THE MAINTENANCE , REPAIR AND RENTING OUT OF CASH REGISTERS AND THE SALE OF USED MACHINES CANNOT CONSTITUTE PROFITABLE OPERATIONS BEYOND A CERTAIN AREA AROUND THE COMMERCIAL BASE OF AN UNDERTAKING . THIS CHARACTERISTIC IS REFLECTED IN THE STRUCTURE OF THE UNDERTAKINGS CONCERNED . IT APPEARS FROM THE FILE THAT IN THE UNITED KINGDOM THERE EXIST LARGE NUMBERS OF SMALL , LOCAL UNDERTAKINGS WHICH SPECIALIZE IN THE PROVISION OF THE SERVICES IN QUESTION . THERE ARE GROUNDS FOR BELIEVING THAT THE COMMERCIAL STRUCTURE OF THIS TRADE IS THE SAME IN THE OTHER MEMBER STATES IN WHICH HUGIN ALSO APPLIES ITS POLICY OF NOT SUPPLYING SPARE PARTS OUTSIDE ITS OWN DISTRIBUTION NETWORK .

20THE CONCLUSION TO BE DRAWN FROM THESE CONSIDERATIONS IS THEREFORE THAT TRADE BETWEEN MEMBER STATES IS NOT AFFECTED BY THE OBSTACLES WHICH HUGIN ' S CONDUCT PLACES IN THE WAY OF THE ACTIVITIES OF INDEPENDENT UNDERTAKINGS WHICH SPECIALIZE IN THE PROVISION OF MAINTENANCE SERVICES .

21AS REGARDS THE DISTRIBUTION OF HUGIN SPARE PARTS AS A DISTINCT COMMERCIAL ACTIVITY IT IS ESTABLISHED THAT LIPTONS HAS TRIED IN VAIN TO OBTAIN SUCH PARTS FROM HUGIN DISTRIBUTORS IN CERTAIN OTHER MEMBER STATES . MOREOVER , HUGIN DOES NOT DENY THAT ITS POLICY OF NOT SUPPLYING SPARE PARTS OUTSIDE ITS OWN NETWORK , WHILST IT DOES NOT INVOLVE A PROHIBITION ON EXPORTS , NECESSARILY IMPLIES THAT THE REFUSAL TO SUPPLY INDEPENDENT UNDERTAKINGS APPLIES WHATEVER THE GEOGRAPHICAL LOCATION OF THE UNDERTAKING .

22THE QUESTION IS , THEREFORE , WHETHER IT MAY BE ASSUMED THAT TRADE BETWEEN MEMBER STATES IN HUGIN SPARE PARTS WOULD EXIST IF THE MARKET CONDITIONS WERE ENTIRELY FREE AND NOT SUBJECT TO RESTRICTIVE PRACTICES SUCH AS THOSE APPLIED BY HUGIN IN THIS INSTANCE .

23IT SHOULD BE RECALLED IN THIS RESPECT THAT THE VALUE OF THE SPARE PARTS IS IN ITSELF RELATIVELY INSIGNIFICANT . ACCORDINGLY THEY ARE NOT SUCH AS TO CONSTITUTE A COMMODITY OF COMMERCIAL INTEREST IN TRADE BETWEEN MEMBER STATES , QUITE APART FROM THE FACT THAT AN INDEPENDENT UNDERTAKING WOULD DERIVE NO ECONOMIC ADVANTAGE FROM BUYING THEM FROM A HUGIN SUBSIDIARY IN ANOTHER MEMBER STATE RATHER THAN FROM THE PARENT COMPANY . INDEED , IT HAS NOT BEEN ALLEGED THAT HUGIN APPLIES DIFFERENTIATED PRICES ON THE VARIOUS LOCAL MARKETS . IT IS LOGICAL TO SUPPOSE THAT AN INDEPENDENT UNDERTAKING WHICH COULD NOT OBTAIN A SPARE PART FROM THE HUGIN SUBSIDIARY ESTABLISHED IN ITS COUNTRY WOULD TURN TO THE PARENT COMPANY , THAT IS TO SAY , IN THIS INSTANCE , TO A SUPPLIER BASED IN A NON-MEMBER COUNTRY , RATHER THAN TO A SUBSIDIARY IN ANOTHER MEMBER STATE . IF THE LATTER COURSE WERE FOLLOWED IT WOULD CONSTITUTE AN EXCEPTION RATHER THAN A NORMAL COMMERCIAL TRANSACTION .

24IN THE PRESENT CASE LIPTONS TURNED TO HUGIN SUBSIDIARIES AND DISTRIBUTORS IN CERTAIN OTHER MEMBER STATES PRECISELY BECAUSE HUGIN ' S RESTRICTIVE POLICY PREVENTED IT FROM SATISFYING ITS SPARE PARTS REQUIREMENTS THROUGH NORMAL COMMERCIAL CHANNELS . ITS ATTEMPTS TO OBTAIN SPARE PARTS IN THE OTHER MEMBER STATES CAN THEREFORE NOT BE REGARDED AS AN INDICATION OF THE EXISTENCE , WHETHER ACTUAL OR POTENTIAL , OF A NORMAL PATTERN OF TRADE BETWEEN THE MEMBER STATES IN SPARE PARTS . IN OTHER WORDS , IF LIPTONS HAD BEEN ABLE TO OBTAIN SPARE PARTS FROM A HUGIN SUBSIDIARY IN ANOTHER MEMBER STATE IT WOULD HAVE BEEN BECAUSE HUGIN WAS WILLING TO SELL THOSE PARTS OUTSIDE ITS OWN DISTRIBUTION NETWORK . IN SUCH A CASE , HOWEVER , IT WOULD BE CUSTOMARY FOR LIPTONS TO APPLY TO THE HUGIN SUBSIDIARY IN ITS OWN COUNTRY RATHER THAN TO A SUBSIDIARY IN ANOTHER MEMBER STATE .

25IN THOSE CIRCUMSTANCES HUGIN ' S CONDUCT CANNOT BE REGARDED AS HAVING THE EFFECT OF DIVERTING THE MOVEMENT OF GOODS FROM ITS NORMAL CHANNELS , TAKING ACCOUNT OF THE ECONOMIC AND TECHNICAL FACTORS PECULIAR TO THE SECTOR IN QUESTION .

26IT MUST THEREFORE BE CONCLUDED THAT HUGIN ' S CONDUCT IS NOT CAPABLE OF AFFECTING TRADE BETWEEN MEMBER STATES . CONSEQUENTLY THE COMMISSION ' S DECISION DOES NOT SATISFY ALL THE CONDITIONS LAID DOWN BY ARTICLE 86 OF THE TREATY . IT MUST THEREFORE BE ANNULLED .

Decision on costs


COSTS

27ARTICLE 69 ( 2 ) OF THE RULES OF PROCEDURE PROVIDES THAT THE UNSUCCESSFUL PARTY SHALL BE ORDERED TO PAY THE COSTS IF THEY HAVE BEEN ASKED FOR IN THE SUCCESSFUL PARTY ' S PLEADING . SINCE THE COMMISSION HAS FAILED IN ITS SUBMISSIONS IT SHOULD BE ORDERED TO PAY THE COSTS .

Operative part


ON THOSE GROUNDS ,

THE COURT

HEREBY :

1 . ANNULS THE COMMISSION DECISION OF 8 DECEMBER 1977 RELATING TO A PROCEEDING UNDER ARTICLE 86 OF THE EEC TREATY ( IV/29.132-HUGIN/LIPTONS ).

2 . ORDERS THE COMMISSION TO PAY THE COSTS .

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