The past year (2015) saw the seventh year of China’s Anti-Monopoly Law (“AML”). This note identifies several significant trends in Chinese antitrust enforcement and illustrated the degree to which it deviates from Western antitrust norms. The Chinese authorities appear to have moved away from the “hold separate” remedies that they have imposed in recent years, thereby mitigating one significant divergence with Western authorities. On the other hand, much of Chinese antitrust enforcement in 2015 still stands in contrast to Western approaches. Indeed, several of China’s enforcement priorities in 2015 appear to suggest ongoing concerns about the economic strength of the domestic economy in ways that are at odds with Western antitrust norms. In 2015, this trend has been particularly evident in industries involving intellectual property and patent-licensing practices. For example, China imposed a record-high fine against one Western company (Qualcomm) for charging excessive royalties to Chinese licensees, despite significant advance criticism from international antitrust authorities that China should not do so.
We review significant developments and identify trends of note to companies subject to AML enforcement.