The lawsuit filed by the National Association of Auto Parts Manufacturers (Anfape) against automakers Volkswagen, Fiat and Ford for alleged anti-competitive practices was finally shelved after 11 years.
In a decision contrary to the previous recommendation of the CADE Superintendency, counselor Maurício Bandeira Maia voted to close the case, and was accompanied by a majority of the Administrative Court of CADE.
According to Maurcio Maia, the mere exercise of exclusive right derived from protection by Industrial Design Registry does not lead to the conviction of the automakers, independently of the market. Also, according to the counselor, no abusive conduct on the part of the automakers in relation to their Industrial Property rights has been proven.
During the process, the ANFAPE (National Association of Auto Parts Manufacturers), representing the FIAP’s, argued that the protection of the Registration of automotive parts should be exercised only in the foremarket, as if this protection was extended to the aftermarket, it would set up the abuse of right with anticompetitive effects. Thus, in proposing judicial and extrajudicial orders, automakers would be aiming to end the production and marketing of “visible parts” protected by Industrial Design Registrations.
Meanwhile, the defense of the automakers claimed that the right of the Registrations should be exercised in the face of FIAP’s to recover investments in R & D made by the automakers, encouraging innovation, ensuring the safety of customers and the authenticity of the auto parts and avoid cream skimming (practice of providing the market with only high-value-added products and low production cost products), thus ensuring the supply of auto spare parts to consumers, even after discontinuation of a vehicle, since the FIAP’s are not legally compelled to this obligation, unlike the automakers.
This long-awaited decision by the automakers also contributed to strengthening the Intellectual Property system in Brazil, since the right guaranteed by the Law to the owners of of Industrial Design registrations has been duly respected.
Our office Clarke, Modet & Cº Brazil will remain committed to closely follow the above process, keeping our clients updated about any development.