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Cartel Office: Investigation against Amazon for discrimination against traders

Last updated on March 9, 2021

Amazon is supposed to exclude certain retailers of branded products from the marketplace – it concerns manufacturers like Apple .

Cartel Office starts investigations against Amazon. (Image: Mike Segar / Reuters)

The Cartel Office has initiated further proceedings against Amazon, as reported by the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung . “We would like to clarify whether and to what extent Amazon cooperates with brand manufacturers at the expense of third-party dealers,” said the Cartel Office President Andreas Mundt of the newspaper. It is also about the collaboration between Amazon and Apple.

Amazon allows brand manufacturers to exclude third-party retailers from selling their products in the German Amazon Marketplace. This is known in the industry as a brand gating agreement. This could mean that some brands may only be sold by Amazon and the manufacturer itself on the Amazon website. All other dealers are prohibited from selling the corresponding products. According to Mundt, there are also cases in which only a few dealers are excluded.

In the opinion of the Cartel Office, such brand-gating agreements to protect against product piracy should be recognized as “basically justified” . But in order for them to be compatible with the applicable antitrust law, “the principle of proportionality” would have to be observed. It should not “lead to the elimination of competition,” said Mundt. Whether this applies to Amazon’s branding agreements is currently being investigated. It is also a matter of checking whether Amazon and brand manufacturers have not also taken other measures against product piracy.

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Amazon is an authorized Apple dealer

A particularly well-known example here is the cooperation with Apple. Since the beginning of 2019, only authorized Apple retailers have been allowed to sell Apple products on the German Amazon Marketplace. Amazon itself is an authorized Apple dealer and is supplied with products accordingly.

Amazon said: “We are fully cooperating with the responsible German authorities.” Agreements with dealers are never changed without good reason, they say. Amazon wants to offer customers the widest possible range of products.

Everything is done to “maintain a trustworthy shopping experience by protecting our store from unlawful goods” . According to Amazon information, around 60 percent of the products sold on Amazon came from third-party retailers. For the online department store, it is therefore crucial that sales partners are also successful, then Amazon is also successful.

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