CJEU - T-470/13 / Judgment

Merck v. Commission
Policy area
Deciding body type
Court of Justice of the European Union
Deciding body
GENERAL COURT (Ninth Chamber)
Decision date
ECLI (European case law identifier)
  • CJEU - T-470/13 / Judgment

    Key facts of the case:

    Competition — Agreements, decisions and concerted practices — Market for antidepressant medicinal products containing the active pharmaceutical ingredient citalopram — Concept of restriction of competition ‘by object’ — Potential competition — Generic medicinal products — Barriers to market entry resulting from the existence of patents — Agreements concluded between a patent holder and a generic undertaking — Error of law — Error of assessment — Imputability of infringements — Liability of a parent company for infringements of the competition rules committed by its subsidiaries — Legal certainty — Reasonable time — Fines

    Results (sanctions) and key consequences of the case:

    THE GENERAL COURT (Ninth Chamber) hereby:

    1. Dismisses the action;
    2. Orders Merck KGaA to bear its own costs and those incurred by the European Commission;
    3. Orders Generics (UK) Ltd to bear its own costs.
  • Paragraphs referring to EU Charter
    1. It is necessary to take into account the principle of the presumption of innocence resulting in particular from Article 48 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. Given the nature of the infringements in question and the nature and degree of severity of the penalties which may ensue, the presumption of innocence applies, inter alia, to the procedures relating to infringements of the competition rules applicable to undertakings that may result in the imposition of fines or periodic penalty payments (see, to that effect, judgment in CISAC v Commission, cited in paragraph 88 above, EU:T:2013:188, paragraph 93 and the case-law cited).
    1. It must be borne in mind that the principle of legal certainty and the principle that penalties must have a proper legal basis, laid down by Article 7 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, signed in Rome on 4 November 1950, and Article 49 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights, cannot be interpreted as prohibiting the gradual clarification of the rules of liability but may preclude the retroactive application of a new interpretation of a rule establishing an offence (see, to that effect, judgment in Telefónica and Telefónica de España v Commission, cited in paragraph 96 above, EU:C:2014:2062, paragraph 148 and the case-law cited).