Tue, Mar. 27, 2007

License Not a Trust Issue

CK - Washington.   The antitrust division of the federal supreme court, Bundesgerichtshof, in Karlsruhe released its March 6, 2007 decision in the matter KVR 32/05 relating to the antitrust issues involved in the German license for the National Geographic magazine published by Gruner + Jahr publishers.

The court found the acquisition of a license not to constitute a merger subject to control by the German antitrust authority, Bundeskartellamt. The antitrust law authorizes government control in instances of external growth, such as occasioned by a merger, but not of internal growth as exemplified by a license, the court ruled.

The Bonn agency had stopped the 1999 license deal in 2004. The German publisher had obtained the agency's authorization for a joint venture with a Spanish publisher but had not disclosed the inbound license from National Geographic.

The agency argued that Gruner + Jahr of Hamburg enjoyed a dominating position in the market for the type of magazines that comprises the National Geographic. Significantly, the new licensed German edition of the magazine was able to build on the existing English edition that had been marketed in Germany for some time.

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