Cartel Office Germany: proceedings against Amazon and Apple initiated
Andreas Mundt, head of the Federal Cartel Office, has confirmed that his authority has initiated proceedings against Amazon and Apple. The case concerns Amazon’s practice of concluding exclusive contracts with brand manufacturers and thus excluding other companies from trading in the products concerned.
Protection against counterfeit goods as an argument
A prominent example of this practice is the exclusive contract that Amazon has concluded with Apple. Since the end of 2018, Amazon has had an official sales license from Apple. Since 2019, only Amazon itself, Apple and other companies licensed by Apple are allowed to sell iPhones and Co. via the Amazon marketplace. On the one hand, this serves to protect against counterfeit goods, but on the other hand it excludes smaller companies trading with used devices from participating in the Amazon marketplace, which is a considerable competitive disadvantage. Mundt explained that the practice is useful as protection against the trade with counterfeits. It is to be examined however whether this protection is convertible also on other, less into the freedom of competition intervening way.
Both Amazon and Apple have already commented on the matter. Amazon declared that it would cooperate fully with the authorities. The company stated that it would never restrict sales authorizations without good reason, and above all that it wanted to ensure a “trustworthy shopping experience”. Apple also referred to the safety of customers, which the company wanted to protect from the unknowing purchase of counterfeit devices through its cooperation with Amazon.
Further investigation against Amazon underway
In addition to these proceedings, an official request for information against Amazon is underway. The inquiry is investigating the extent to which Amazon has influenced the pricing of companies selling products on its marketplace. The Federal Cartel Office has received complaints that Amazon blocked companies on its marketplace because of excessive prices. The head of the Cartel Office had already stated in August that Amazon was “not allowed to be a price controller”.