Telecom Italia in Successful Private Action Against Competitors

August 23, 2007

Cleary Gottlieb represented Telecom Italia S.p.A., Italy’s largest telephone operator, in its successful request for interim measures filed against Wind, Tele 2 and Fastweb before the Tribunale di Roma under unfair competition rules, as well as under privacy law and consumers’ law, following the defendants’ telemarketing activities directed towards Telecom’s clients.

Wind, Tele 2 and Fastweb are Telecom’s main competitors in the fixed telephone services market. Telecom alleged that the defendants were operating illegitimate telemarketing activities towards many of its customers. The customers in question had either requested that Telecom not publish their data in the phone directory or had agreed to have their name inserted in the phone directory specifying that they did not give their consent to the use of such data for marketing purposes. Although the complaint was initially rejected, the Court of Rome granted Telecom’s appeal and issued an interim order against Wind and Tele 2 to refrain from their illegitimate telemarketing activities. The main argument of the appeal was that by calling Telecom’s customers, the defendants violated privacy law and consumer law provisions that require companies to obtain consumers’ written consent before using their personal data for marketing activities. Cleary Gottlieb claimed that these provisions protect individuals not only as such, but also as consumers in their role as market participants. Therefore, competitors’ violation of privacy law and consumer law rules constituted an act of unfair competition against Telecom.