Zalando and competition law

On 18 January 2022, Dr Anselm Rodenhausen, Head of Antitrust & Distribution Law within the legal department of Zalando, gave a one-hour zoom lecture on the topic of “Challenges for online platforms”.

Dr Rodenhausen has dealt with competition law in the digital sector in various positions over the last ten years: During his time as a lawyer in the Brussels office of Freshfields, he advised international tech companies. As Legal & Policy Officer at the European Commission (DG CONNECT), he was involved in the development of the EU strategy for the Digital Single Market. At the ITM, Dr Rodenhausen completed his doctorate on a media competition law topic and a Master’s degree at Oxford University.

In the first part of the lecture, Dr Rodenhausen went into the special features of digital markets. On the one hand, these differ from conventional markets by their size: the physical proximity to the customer becomes relative. On the other hand, digital markets are characterised by their network effects and scalability.

Dr. Rodenhausen linked to these special features by outlining the (legal) challenges for online platforms. Among other things, the unclear market boundaries, the data-relatedness as well as the strong expansion of GAFA (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon) would pose challenges for online platforms.

Finally, Dr. Rodenhausen took a “deep dive” into the national and European legal framework for online platforms. In doing so, he saw Germany as a “trendsetter” in this area, which had adopted innovative regulations, for example, with the NetzDG and Section 19a GWB. The recent finding by the Federal Cartel Office that Google is of “overriding importance for competition across markets” within the meaning of Section 19a (1) GWB shows the effectiveness of the new provision. At the European level, too, the Digital Markets Act is a set of rules for the regulation of online platforms. In the area of data sharing, a reform project of the Vertical Block Exemption Regulation and Vertical Guidelines with detailed regulations is planned at European level for 2022. Dr Rodenhausen also referred to the less detailed German Section 32c (4) GWB n.F., which, however, provides for an important right to an official decision.

We sincerely thank Dr Rodenhausen for the exciting and instructive lecture!