On line sales investigated by the EU Commission03/07/2017


On line sales continue to be under scrutiny by the European Commission as demonstrated by the recent launch of antitrust investigations targeting certain online sale practices within the context of distribution agreements.

A set of investigations were, indeed, launched last June by the Commission with reference to Nike's, Sanrio's and Universal Studios' licensing and distribution practices, as well as distribution practices of the clothing manufacturer and retailer Guess in order to ascertain if the companies illegally restrict authorised retailers and licensees from selling online in other Member States.

These investigations follow up the final report on the e-commerce sector inquiry adopted by the Commission in May 2017, in order to identify possible competition concerns in European e-commerce markets. In this view, the Commission already opened in February 2017 three separate investigations into holiday accommodation, PC video games distribution and consumer electronics pricing practices that may limit competition, tackling the specific issues of retail price restrictions, discrimination on the basis of location and geo-blocking.

Due to the ongoing investigations and to the adopted sector inquiry’s final report, some companies - such as the clothing companies Mango, Oysho, Pull & Bear, Dorothy Perkins and Topman, as well as the coffee machine producer De Longhi and photo equipment manufacturer Manfrotto - have reviewed their commercial practices on their own initiatives.