FINES FOR INFRINGEMENTS OF THE LAW ON COMPETITION FOR COMPANIES TRADING IN DECOUPAGE GOODS
The Competition Council established that by having concluded prohibited agreements on fixing retail prices or coordinating the level of prices for decoupage goods, the companies UAB Puse Plus Kaunas, UAB Creativa grupė, PC Terra animalis and UAB Senas Naujas infringed the requirements of Article 5 of the Law on Competition. The companies concerned were obligated to cease the actions infringing the Law on Competition where they were still continued. For the infringement of the Law on Competition the competition authority imposed the following fines: UAB Puse Plus Kaunas – LTL 50,900; UAB Creativa grupė – LTL 400; PC Terra animalis – LTL 6,800; UAB Senas Naujas – LTL 8,600.
The investigation conducted by the Competition Council provided confirmation that the restricting agreements, i.e., the agreement to directly or indirectly establish (fix) the prices of a specific good or other terms for purchase or sale – may be entered into in most diversified markets and among even comparatively small undertakings. Such agreements may cause consumers to overpay for articles of any purpose.
Upon the assessment of the circumstances established during the investigation it was concluded that the companies in question had concluded a number of prohibited agreements related to trading in Lithuania of decoupage goods of an Italian manufacturer BOX S.r.l. under the trade marks “Stamperia“ and “Decorabilia“. The investigation established that UAB Puse Plus Kaunas, acting as both a wholesale and retail distributor of decoupage goods had concluded with UAB Creative grupė and PC Terra animalis written agreements specifying the minimum retail prices for the goods concerned. This agreement prevented entities engaged in retail trading from freely establishing any lower retail prices of the goods resold to their consumers. Also UAB Puse Plus Kaunas and UAB Senas Naujas, although without having concluded any agreement, were jointly discussing and coordinating other issues related to the retail prices of decoupage goods. The facts were confirmed by both the results of the inquiries to the undertakings concerned and the contents of electronic messages that the companies were exchanging. Such actions restricted the competition between companies engaged in retail trading thus incurring damage to consumers.
By imposing fines upon the companies the Competition Council duly considered the different severity and duration of the infringement, difference in the financial status of the companies concerned and their ability to pay the fines. As the initiator of the infringement was designated UAB Puse Plus Kaunas. By differentiating the amounts of the fines the Competition Council being guided by principles of justice and proportionality also considered the circumstances related to individual undertakings. Trading in decoupage goods is the main activities only for UAB Creativa grupė ir UAB Senas Naujas. UAB Puse Plus Kaunas and PC Terra animalis, however, are engaged in differentiated economic activities where trading in decoupage goods represent only auxiliary and insignificant part of the total revenues. Also, due account was taken of the circumstances mitigating the liability of the undertakings concerned – the acknowledgement of the material or part of the circumstances established in the course of the investigation.Competition Council Spokesperson