On Monday, the Federal Trade Commission announced that it has settled charges against German industrial company Robert Bosch GmbH, relating to restriction of competition on the U.S. market for equipment used to recharge vehicle air conditioning systems.

Bosch's recent purchase of North Carolina-based engineering firm SPX Service Solutions U.S. LLC, the FTC alleged, put Bosch in a position to hold "a virtual monopoly in the market for air conditioning recycling, recovery, and recharge (ACRRR) devices." ACRRR devices, the Commission explained, are "stand-alone pieces of equipment used by automotive technicians to remove refrigerant from a vehicle's air conditioning system, store the refrigerant while the air conditioning system is being serviced, recycle the refrigerant back into the system, and recharge the air conditioning system."

To remedy this possible anticompetitive position, the FTC is requiring Bosch to sell its ACRRR business, including its RTI Technologies subsidiary. The buyer is automotive equipment manufacturer Mahle Clevite. Furthermore, to resolve allegations that SPX itself -- prior to being acquired by Bosch -- had acted in an anticompetitive manner, the FTC is requiring Bosch to make certain SPX patents available to its competitors for licensing.

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