AGCM opens an investigation on Apple and Amazon

AGCM opens an investigation on Apple and Amazon
To ascertain whether Apple and Amazon have entered into a restrictive agreement with respect to competition to ban the marketing of products with the brand of the bitten apple and the Beats range by electronics retailers not participating in the official program of the Cupertino group. This is the purpose of the investigation launched today in Italy by AGCM on the work of the two US companies. Here is what is read in the official press release.

The Competition and Market Authority has launched an investigation pursuant to art. 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union towards companies of the Apple Inc. and Inc. groups

Antitrust: AGCM on the sale of Apple and Beats products

The intent is to clarify whether retailers, who legitimately purchase the products in question from wholesalers and then distribute them to retail, have undergone a limitation that can be interpreted as detrimental to competition through "the raising of barriers to the outlet of the sales markets online ".

According to the Competition and Market Authority, the agreement signed between Apple and Amazon could have penalized those small and medium-sized enterprises that make sales through the Web channels using marketplace services. It is also necessary to evaluate any negative repercussions on end consumers since the decrease in the number of sellers could have consequently triggered a decrease in incentives to lower prices.

The agreement appears to have an exclusionary effect even more serious when we consider the current market environment, where the use of electronic commerce and remote shopping has become crucial. In this sense, the subjects excluded, usually small and medium-sized enterprises in the national, not being able to make recourse to the services of the marketplace provided by Amazon, are not able to

reach a large portion of the customers who buy electronic products online.

As stated in the text of the measure, it all began in February 2019 with the reporting which came to AUTHORITY by a retailer of electronic products.

According to the reporter, in the execution of a commercial agreement which would be made between the groups of Apple and Amazon in 2018, with the latter removed from the marketplace, all the vendors who, although they legitimately have these products, do not belong to the official program of the Apple authorized resellers. These sellers up to that time had offered the Apple products and Beats through the marketplace of Amazon.

In the context of’ assessment also takes into account the following.

... Apple is not a mere manufacturer of electronic devices, but is also a retail seller through its online store (as well as with their physical stores). Likewise, Amazon, besides being the provider marketplace to third party vendors, sells Apple devices and Beats, as well as Amazon, for its own account.

these Are the two realities in our country generate the most volume of profit from the distribution of products through channels of e-commerce .

In relation to online sales of electronic products and media, Amazon and Apple appear to be the greatest subjects to the value of sales of products falling in the category electronics and media in Italy.

The officers of the Authority have carried out inspections in the Italian offices of the two companies.

In conclusion, the contractual restriction on the sale on the marketplace, Amazon would seem to constitute a violation of art. 101 TFEU, as designed to limit unreasonably the opportunity for resellers who do not adhere to the official program of distribution of Apple's access to the brokerage services offered by Amazon and, through this, to reach a substantial part of diversified clients.

Also, as already noted, these same restrictions could limit the incentives to compete effectively in the price of Apple products and Beats, as well as to hinder the integration of the european markets and to limit the parallel trade.

At the moment do not register claims by Apple, while Amazon has opened the doors to Authority: “ We are offering full cooperation to the Authorities.”

Source: AGCM

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