Wednesday , December 2 2020

Germany probes Amazon, Apple over ‘online sales’

Bloomberg

Amazon.com and Apple face German antitrust scrutiny over a policy that excludes independent sellers of brand products on the online market place.
Germany’s Federal Cartel Office, the country’s antitrust regulator, is probing both companies over a policy at Amazon called “brandgating,” the authority said in an emailed statement. The policy allows makers of branded products such as iPhones to have independent sellers removed from the platform as long as Amazon can sell the items, according to the statement.
“Brandgating agreements can help to protect against product piracy,” the Cartel Office said. “But such measures must be proportionate to be in line with antitrust rules and may not result in eliminating competition.”
Amazon and Apple are among the tech giants under intense scrutiny by regulators across the world, including in the European Union, which is poised to propose sweeping new laws to rein in Silicon Valley. Authorities are wrestling with how to act against companies that critics say run a rigged game when they set the rules for platforms that also host their rivals.
Amazon said that it never removes sales permissions without a sound reason and invests heavily to protect customers from the illegal distribution of goods. It said it’s cooperating with the regulator.
Apple is a “prominent” example of how Amazon does brand gating, which can take various forms, the German regulator said.
Since the start of 2019, only authorised Apple vendors can sell via Amazon’s marketplace. Amazon itself became such an authorised seller.

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