The Competition and Market Authority sanctioned Amazon and Apple for a total of 200 million euros at the end of the investigation on the restrictions on access to the Amazon.it marketplace against legitimate resellers of Apple and Beats branded products ” genuine “. The penalties amounted to 68.7 million euros to companies of the Amazon group and 134.5 million euros to companies of the Apple group. The authority has ordered these companies to end the restrictions, allowing access to Amazon.it for resellers of “genuine” Apple and Beats products in a non-discriminatory way.
A “qualitative” and “geographical” discrimination
The investigation made it possible to ascertain that certain contractual clauses of an agreement signed on October 31, 2018 – which prohibited official and unofficial resellers of Apple and Beats products from using Amazon.it, allowing the sale of Apple and Beats products in that marketplace only to Amazon and to certain subjects chosen individually and in a discriminatory way – they violate article 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. In fact, the investigation established the intention to introduce a purely quantitative restriction on the number of retailers, allowing only Amazon and certain subjects, identified in a discriminatory way, to operate on Amazon.it. The terms of the agreement also restricted cross-border sales, as retailers were discriminated against on a geographic basis. The restrictions of the agreement have affected the level of discounts offered by third parties on Amazon.it, decreasing their size.
The Amazon perimeter
The restrictiveness of these conducts appears confirmed by the fact that Amazon.it represents the place of electronic commerce where at least 70% of purchases of consumer electronics products in Italy are made, of which at least 40% are represented by retailers who use Amazon. as a brokerage platform. “It therefore appears essential – reads the Antitrust note – that the application of competition rules ensure a level playing field for all retailers who use marketplaces as an increasingly important place for carrying out their commercial activity, especially in today’s context, avoiding the implementation of discriminatory behaviors that restrict competition. In this perspective, the Authority’s decision recognizes, in line with the jurisprudence of the EU Court of Justice, the need for distribution systems, in order to be compatible with competition rules, to be based on qualitative criteria, not discriminatory and applied equally to all potential resellers “.
Similar situations in Germany and Spain
The Authority was the leader in this action and, thanks to its intervention and collaboration, the national competition authorities of Germany and Spain subsequently initiated similar proceedings. The Authority therefore imposed a penalty of 68.7 million euros on the companies of the Amazon group and a penalty of 134.5 million euros on the companies of the Apple group and ordered the subjects to end the restrictions, allowing access ad Amazon.it to resellers of “genuine” Apple and Beats products in a non-discriminatory manner.
Cupertino’s reply is not long in coming: «We work hard to create the best products in the world that offer a great user experience. To ensure the safety of our customers and the integrity of the products they purchase, it is important that customers know they are purchasing genuine products. Non-genuine products offer an inferior experience and can often be dangerous. To ensure that our customers purchase genuine products, we work closely with our reseller partners and have dedicated teams of experts around the world who work with law enforcement, customs and distributors to ensure that only Apple products are sold. originals. We respect the Italian Competition and Market Authority but we believe we have not done anything wrong and we intend to appeal ”, concludes the note from Apple.