On 26 November 2013, the German Federal Cartel Office (FCO) announced that it ended the probe into Amazon’s price parity policy (the “Policy”). The Policy required that the price of an item offered by a retailer on Amazon’s online marketplace platform, Amazon Marketplace, should not be higher than the retailer’s lowest offer for that item elsewhere, including other online shops or the retailer’s own website.
In August 2013 Amazon decided not to implement the Policy in the EU. As a result, the UK competition authority (OFT) stated that it was minded to close its probe without reaching a view on infringement, and the FCO announced that it would assess whether the measures taken by Amazon were sufficient for it to close its investigation (see our previous posts here and here). The FCO wanted to ensure that Amazon removes price parity terms and conditions for all dealers in a legally binding manner, and that it clearly informs dealers about the changed terms and conditions. According to its press statement of 26 November 2013, the FCO has determined that these requirements have been met, noting that dealers have confirmed implementation of these measures.
While the probe into Amazon’s price parity policy has come to an end, competition authorities in Europe have been closely watching price relationship agreements in the context of online platforms, especially in the e-books (see our previous post here) and online hotel booking sectors.
*The authors would like to thank Monika Kuschewsky for helpful comments.