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Italian competition authority fines Amazon and Apple €200m

An agreement between Amazon and Apple restricted the sale of certain products on (photo: AGCM)
An agreement between Amazon and Apple restricted the sale of certain products on (photo: AGCM)
ITALY. The Italian Competition and Market Authority (AGCM) on Tuesday (23 November 2021) fined Amazon and Apple for collusion regarding the restriction of sales on the platform. All resellers of Apple products and Beats (acquired in July 2014 by Apple) were not allowed to operate on this marketplace. The two companies are fined €68.73 million and €134.53 million respectively. They are obliged to put an end to the restrictions allowing other companies to sell Apple and Beats products (mainly iPhone, iPAd, AirPods and iWatch) in a non-discriminatory manner.

According to the AGCM investigation, a commercial agreement signed on 31 October 2018 prohibited official and unofficial resellers of Apple and Beats products from using to reserve the sale of these products on "to Amazon and to certain individually selected subjects in a discriminatory manner - they violate Art. 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union".
It concludes that Apple and Amazon did have "the intention to introduce purely quantitative restrictions on the number of resellers" with the aim of increasing their profits. Moreover, this "limited choice for buyers and reduced the possibility of obtaining discounts", while "limiting cross-border sales by discriminating on a geographical basis".

Apple is appealing

"To ensure that our customers are buying authentic products, we work closely with our reseller partners and have dedicated teams of experts around the world who work with law enforcement, customs and retailers to ensure that only genuine Apple products are sold," Apple countered in a statement. The Californian electronics giant has already announced its intention to appeal the decision, which it described as "unjustified and disproportionate".

In Italy, 70% of consumer electronics purchases are made on, of which at least 40% are represented by retailers using Amazon as a brokerage platform. "It is therefore essential that the application of competition rules ensures a level playing field for all traders who use marketplaces as an increasingly important place to conduct their business, especially in the current context, avoiding discriminatory behaviour that restricts competition," the AGCM said in its ruling.

According to the Italian competition authority, identical proceedings are currently being conducted by the competition authorities in Spain and Germany. Apple and Amazon could therefore face similar decisions, especially in other European countries.

See the AGCM decision (in Italian) 

Frédéric Dubessy

Tuesday, November 23rd 2021

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