Commission seeks interim measures for the first time in 18 years

On 26 June 2019, the European Commission announced that it has opened a formal investigation to determine whether US chipmaker, Broadcom, is abusing its allegedly dominant position in the markets for modem and TV chipsets through its imposition of exclusivity requirements on customers (amongst other alleged breaches of competition law).

In parallel, the Commission issued a Statement of Objections notifying Broadcom of its intention to impose an interim measures order restraining its allegedly exclusionary practices pending conclusion of the investigation. This is the first time in nearly two decades that such interim measures have been pursued by the Commission. It also comes at a time when the Commission is coming under pressure to ensure competition law enforcement is timely and effective, particularly in respect of fast-moving digital markets.

Part of the challenge has been to determine whether existing enforcement tools are adequate for dealing with the issues arising with digitisation. The fact that the Commission turned here to an existing but much under-used power therefore marks this out as an interesting test case.

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