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Italy fines Amazon, Apple $ 230 million for alleged collusion between resellers – TechCrunch

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Amazon and Apple were hit with nearly $ 230 million (203 million) in total fines by the Italian antitrust authority – following an investigation into the resale of Apple and the Beats kit (owned by Apple ) in the Italian Amazon e-commerce marketplace.

The authority claims that the alleged collusion reduced the level of discounts available to consumers purchasing Apple and Beats products on the Amazon Italy market.

He also ordered tech giants to end restrictions on resellers.

The AGCM announced the sanction today, saying his investigation identified a restrictive deal between the two men to block certain “legitimate” resellers of Beats products on Amazon.it.

The fine breaks down into 134.5 million (~ $ 151 million) for Amazon and 68.7 million (~ $ 77.3 million) for Apple.

The agreement in question was signed between the couple in October 2018.

According to the press release from AGCM, it was found that the agreement contained a number of contractual clauses prohibiting official and unofficial resellers of Apple and Beats products from using Amazon.it – ​​with the restriction limiting the sale of Apple and Beats products on Amazon.it to Amazon. himself and a number of dealers, according to the authority, were “individually and discriminatoryly selected” – in violation of Article 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.

“[T]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 manner, to operate on Amazon.it, ”he wrote in the press release. [which we’ve translated from Italian with Google Translate].

“The terms of the deal also restricted cross-border sales, as retailers were discriminated against on a geographic basis. The restrictions in the deal affected the level of discounts offered by third parties on Amazon.it, shrinking their size. “

The authority notes that Amazon’s local marketplace accounts for at least 70% of consumer electronics kit purchases in the country, of which “at least 40% are represented by retailers who use Amazon as a brokerage platform.” .

“It therefore appears essential that the application of the competition rules ensure a a level playing fieldfor all retailers who usemarkets as an increasingly important place to carry out their commercial activity, especially in the current context, avoiding the implementation of discriminatory behavior which restricts competition ”, he adds.

“In this perspective, the Authority’s decision recognizes, in accordance with the case law of the Court of Justice of the EU, the need for distribution systems, in order to be compatible with competition rules, to be based on qualitative, non-discriminatory criteria applied equally to all potential resellers.

The Italian authority further notes that following its investigation into the Amazon-Apple agreement, the national competition authorities in Germany and Spain subsequently initiated similar proceedings.

Spanish National Commission for Markets and Competition announcement possible disciplinary action against Amazon and Apple this summer – opening its own investigation (which it says would take up to 18 months).

While in 2018, the German Bundeskartellamt launched a abusive proceeding against Amazon following complaints from sellers on its market place – closure of the procedure on the next year after Amazon changed its terms and conditions for sellers and committed to making additional changes to alleviate competition concerns.

More recently, following a major update to Germany’s competition law regarding digital platforms, the Bundeskartellamt has now opened a case examining the market power of the two tech giants – and whether it confirms their of paramount importance for competition between markets, as the law says, the federal Cartel Office will be able to apply ex ante measures to proactively impose conditions on how Amazon and Apple can operate in Germany in order to control the risk of market abuse.

The two tech giants have been contacted to comment on AGCM’s decision.

Amazon confirmed that it would appeal, sending the following statement, attributed to a spokesperson:

We strongly disagree with the decision of the Italian Competition Authority (ICA) and intend to appeal. The proposed fine is disproportionate and unjustified.

We reject the CIA’s suggestion that Amazon benefits by excluding sellers from our store, as our business model is built on their success. Thanks to this agreement, Italian customers can find the latest Apple and Beats products on our store, benefiting from a catalog that has more than doubled, with better offers and faster shipping.

Amazon also sought to assert that the deal it signed with Apple was good for consumers – leading to an increase in the volume of Apple products available for purchase in its marketplace and highlighting individual instances where discounts were having. been applied to some Apple products.

Amazon has also sought to deny any form of market dominance, claiming that its market represents less than 1% of the global retail market and that there are larger retailers in every country it operates in, including Italy – arguing that companies have multiple channels to sell Apple. products, both online and offline.

He added that third-party sellers account for around 60% of sales in his market, including around 18,000 Italian SMEs that sell on Amazon.

Apple also sent a statement confirming that it will appeal, writing:

We work hard to create the best products in the world with great user experience. For the safety of our customers and the integrity of the products they buy, it is important that they know they are buying genuine products. Non-genuine products offer an inferior experience and can often be dangerous. To ensure our customers are buying 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 traders to ensure that only genuine Apple products are sold. We respect the Italian Competition Authority but believe we have done nothing wrong and plan to appeal.

This report has been updated with Apple’s response.

Sources

1/ https://Google.com/

2/ https://techcrunch.com/2021/11/23/italy-amazon-apple-reseller-collusion/

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