GS1 Sweden has, and has always had, as a principle to strictly comply with competition law.
Many of the companies using GS1 standards compete with each other. The competition is both horizontal and vertical. This means that for all activities of GS1, existing competition laws must be taken into account, prohibiting anti-competitive agreements as well as abuses of a dominant position.
Breaches of competition law may result in an injunction, a hefty fine, an obligation to pay damages and the annulment of all or part of the agreement in question.
An act which may seem innocent in itself can be seen by the authorities governing competition law as part of a pattern of activities, which together constitute an infringement of the competition rules. Therefore, participants in committees, working groups or other similar associations within GS1 Sweden must always bear in mind that the purpose of the committee or working group is to improve the ability of all stakeholders in the business community to compete more effectively, with the aim of providing added value to the consumer or end user. Since activities within GS1 Sweden almost always involve cooperation of competitors, it is very important to ensure that competition law is complied with.
This means that:
- Participation must be voluntary.
- A company must not be penalised for not participating.
- There shall be no discussion of
- prices, discounts or other price-sensitive conditions;
- boycotts or division of markets, customers, services or products;
- market shares, sales volumes, costs and other trade secrets.
- A company may not provide information on whether it intends to tender in a future procurement. In the same way, a company may not provide information on the price levels that will be provided in a future tender or information that may affect such price levels.
- Furthermore, the discussions referred to in points 3 and 4 above may not take place before or after user group meetings and the like under the auspices of GS1.
- If a participant believes that the group is about to start discussing an illicit subject, the subject must be postponed until a lawyer with competition law expertise can give an opinion on the compatibility of the subject with the competition rules.
- Meetings shall be held in accordance with an agenda established in advance and documented in minutes drawn up immediately after the meeting.
- Testing or data collection shall be governed by agreements drawn up in consultation with a lawyer with competition law expertise.
- The recommendations made by a GS1 committee or working group are mere recommendations. Each individual company is free to make independent and competitive decisions.
- Any standards developed must be voluntary standards.
These principles were established by GS1 Sweden’s Managing Director in July 2017.