Rome (AFP) – The competition regulator in Italy imposed a fine of 200 million euros (225 million dollars) on Tuesday to the US firms Apple and Amazon for disrespecting the competition rules by restricting access to the Amazon platform to some product resellers Manzana.
For this reason, the Italian body “applied a sanction of 68.7 million euros to the companies of the Amazon group and 134.5 million euros to those of the Apple group,” according to a statement released on 23 November.
The investigation allowed “to establish that some clauses of the contract signed on October 31, 2018 that prohibited official and unofficial resellers of Apple and the firm Beats from using the Amazon.it platform and allowed the sale of Apple and Beats products in this market only to Amazon and some sellers chosen individually and in a discriminatory way (that) violated article 101 of the Treaty on the functioning of the European Union “, according to the text of the Italian regulator.
According to the agency, the investigation also made it possible to establish the “willingness” of the two companies to “introduce purely quantitative restrictions on the number of resellers” in order to increase their profits.
This behavior is even more serious since “at least 70% of purchases of electronic products made by the public in Italy are made on the Amazon platform”.
The body also recalls that the jurisprudence of the Court of Justice of the EU establishes that “distribution systems to be compatible with the rules of competition must be based on qualitative, non-discriminatory criteria, and apply equally to all potential resellers” .
This investigation served as a model “for the competition authorities in Germany and Spain, which also launched similar processes,” according to the Italian body.
For its part, the consumer association Codacons considers the measure adopted by the Italian authority to be positive.
“Any limitation to the access of the operators in the electronic commerce platforms harms the consumers”, assured Carlo Rienzi, president of Codacons, quoted by the AGI agency.
In this specific case, “the restrictions imposed on sellers of Apple products limited the choice of buyers and, on the other hand, reduced the possibility of obtaining discounts,” according to the same source.
The Italian competition authority usually imposes such economic sanctions. In May, it fined Google 102 million euros ($ 114 million) for abuse of its dominant position.
That fine was decided in the face of the Internet giant’s refusal to accept on its Google Play platform an application launched by third parties to find charging stations for electric cars, the Italian Antitrust agency said at the time.
Italy is not the only country that controls the behavior of those large technology companies that dominate the world market.
The US Competition Authority (FTC) and many American States have initiated investigations and processes against Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon, the famous GAFA group, which they accuse of abusing their dominant position in various markets, from social networks to digital advertising and e-commerce.
Amazon largely dominates the cloud, but it’s mostly its e-commerce platform that sparks the most outrage. The company is both judge and party, as it establishes the rules and markets its own products.