Walter van Overbeek
been involved as counsel in many important legal disputes related to his area
of practice. He also litigates with some regularity against non-authorised
internet dealers of products - including cars, bicycles, electronics and
cosmetics that are marketed within the EU via selective distribution systems -
and is highly experienced in advising on omni-channel retaining in, among other
things, the food and drinks industry. Walter is a guest lecturer in commercial
contracts on the 'Zuidas Master' at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, and also
the author of various publications. He has been a speaker at several
conferences, including the annual conference on competition law in the automotive
industry. He worked in EU competition law in Brussels for five years.
QUALIFICATIONS & EXPERIENCE
- Dutch Law (cum laude) (Utrecht University)
- LL.M. International Business Law (with distinction) (University of Hull)
In 2016 KwikFit launched a campaign in which it alleged that the 'KwikFit Brand Service' (Kwikfit Merkbeurt) was always 30% cheaper than service carried out by authorised repairers. In doing so, it made use of the trademark rights (logos) of many car manufacturers.
On behalf of 18 car manufacturers, Houthoff challenged the validity of the KwikFit campaign. Following discussions with the fast fitter, KwikFit gave up its claims and ceased the use of the logos.
Early 2017, Profile launced a campaign in which it alleged that 'Profile Brand Service' (Profile Merkonderhoud) was much cheaper (up to 28%) than the service of the authorised repairers. It did not use and trademark rights of car manufacturers.
Again, Houthoff acted on behalf of 18 car manufacturers and made an end to the Profile campaign, as Profile was unable to demonstrate that it was always much cheaper than the authorised repairers.
Car importers usually appoint two types of repairers: those that also sell new vehicles on the basis of a dealer agreement and stand-alone repairers, that only repair vehicles. Obviously, the temptation for the latter to also sell new vehicles is big. In a recent case, where a Hyundai repairer sold new vehicles without a dealer agreement, the importer terminated the repairer agreement for cause. The repairer subsequently challenged the validity of the termination, arguing that he acted as an intermediary. Houthoff successfully defended the position of the Hyundai importer; the termination was upheld.
The growing importance of e-commerce often creates conflicting interests between manufacturers or wholesalers and retailers, particularly if these retailers perceive the e-commerce activities of their suppliers as unfair competition for their stores. Houthoff has supported the franchisees of one of the Ahold banners in working out a solution that seeks to find a solution for this conflict by introducing detailed rules, a compensation scheme and clear rights and obligations for both parties.