The Italian Competition Authority (AGCM) fined Apple and Amazon a total of 203.2 million euros ($ 228 million) following an antitrust investigation that involved reselling Beats products. According to the controller, the two companies signed an agreement in 2018 that would ban official and unofficial resellers of Apple and Beats products owned by Apple on the Italian website Amazon. The agreement allegedly contained contractual clauses that allowed only Amazon and select resellers “selected individually and in a discriminatory manner” to sell those items.
The AGCM stated in its statement that these clauses violate Article 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. In addition, the supervisory authority said the agreement limited cross-border sales, ultimately limiting buyers ’options and depriving them of the discounts typically offered by third-party sellers. Italian authorities launched antitrust proceedings against both companies in 2020 and even raided their offices in the country.
A total of 70 percent of consumer electronics purchases in the country are from Amazon, AGCM explained, and 40 percent are purchases from retailers that use the website as their main platform. That is why it is essential that Amazon implements the Italian competition rules and provides a level playing field for all sellers, as well as to ensure that customers have access to more options.
The AGCM imposed a fine of 68.7 million euros ($ 77 million) for Amazon and a fine of 134.5 million euros ($ 151.2 million) for Apple. The companies were also ordered to lift restrictions and allow the sale of Apple and Beats products on Amazon in Italy in a “non-discriminatory manner.” In a statement sent to Reuters, Amazon called the sentence “disproportionate and unjustified.” A spokesman said in a statement:
“We reject the suggestion that Amazon benefits by excluding resellers from our store, as our business model relies on their success. As a result of the agreement, Italian customers can find the latest Apple and Beats products in our store, using a catalog that more than doubles, with better offers and faster delivery. “
Meanwhile, Apple has denied any injustice:
“To ensure that our customers buy genuine products, we work closely with our reseller partners and have dedicated teams of experts around the world working with law enforcement, customs and retailers to ensure that only genuine Apple products are sold.”
According to Reuters, both companies plan to appeal the custodian’s sentence.
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