7. Competition Talk of the BWB on 8.10.2013

On the 8. October 2013 the 7. Competition Talk of the BWB on the subject "Franchising - a permitted cartel?" took place. Dr. Sylvia Freygner, (Freygner RA), Dkfm. Andreas Haider (President of the franchising-association) and Dr. Karl Frewein (BWB) were invited to the discussion panel.

Franchising - a permitted cartel?

Disclosure obligations - a historical outline

Dr. Freygner spoke about the history of franchising-systems and focusing on the disclosure obligations of franchisors, starting with the franchising law in the USA 1979, continuing with the first franchising law in Europe (in France) and making further considerations. Further on she reported about the practical problems of franchisees, which often do not have all required details about the economic situation of their franchisors and the fight with complex, partly inadmissible contracts, which could cause financial bankruptcy. The BWB sees Dr. Freygner in the relation to franchisor and franchisee as a corrective, by clearly stating the antitrust limits of these contracts and hence what can be expected from franchisees and their antitrust limits.

Price recommendation VS price maintenance - the detail is important

Dr. Frewein supported the request made to the BWB of Dr. Freygner and ensured the willingness, to take and check complaints  and applications for leniency, but underlined that there currently aren't handled many cases of franchising being handled by the BWB, as businesses are forced to a self-assessment since the introduction of VO 1/2003.

Further on he explained the possibilities by the GVO, such as legally and actually noncommittal price recommendation or short-term cheap price-campaigns, but underlined the importance of defining clearly the limits, as they are determined within direct and indirect price maintenances.

Franchising - a buttress of the economy?

Dkfm Andreas Haider reported about the problems of franchisors as president of the franchising-association, as well as from the position of managing director of Unimarkt. He emphasized, that franchisors situated in Austria are a solid buttress of the economy in all areas (trade, service, gastronomy and production) as they occur as comprehensive distribution systems. Franchisees are an essential part of this successful concept, because they have excellent customer relationships and the required engagement, whereas franchisors provide the relevant know-how and the needed benchmarks. 

Consciousness raising through publishing a a point of view

In the discussion it was reported, that additional legal regulation due to the complexity of several issues and the duration of the implementation of new laws was of as thought not being important, as following the suggestion of GD Dr. Thanner to publish the point of view of the BWB in coordination with Dr. Freygner and the franchise-association.