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Amazon Marketplace: Victory for Bundeskartellamt, EU begins investigation

Amazon Marketplace: Sieg für Bundeskartellamt, EU beginnt Ermittlungen

As far as antitrust law is concerned, Amazon is currently targeting national and international authorities. Under pressure from the Federal Cartel Office, Amazon will amend the terms and conditions for marketplace dealers to their benefit. Meanwhile, the EU Commission is investigating possible anticompetitive practices by Amazon.

Amazon bends Bundeskartellamt and complaints

At the end of November, the Federal Cartel Office initiated an abuse case against Amazon, in which the terms and conditions and behavior on the German Amazon marketplace should be examined. This was due to complaints from numerous retailers who complained about Amazon's business practices in various respects: liability rules at the retailer's expense, rules on product reviews, non-transparent termination and blocking of merchant accounts, and withholding of payments and delayed payments.

As the German Federal Cartel Office announced today, Amazon has agreed to change its terms and conditions for merchants in the Amazon online marketplaces (Amazon Marketplace). The changes are expected to come into force today in 30 days, ie mid-August, and will apply not only to the German marketplace on amazon.de, but also to the rest of the world. The proceedings against Amazon will be discontinued.

The changes affect the one-sided disclaimer in favor of Amazon, the termination and blocking of the merchants' accounts, the jurisdiction in disputes, as well as the handling of product information and many other issues. We have achieved far-reaching improvements worldwide for our dealers in the Amazon marketplaces. The procedure is discontinued.

Andreas Mundt, President of the Bundeskartellamt

The concessions of Amazon in overview

Among other things, the Disclaimer restricted by Amazon, so Amazon in the future as well as the dealer “for intent and gross negligence as well as in case of violation of essential contractual obligations“Liable. So far Amazon is “virtually exempted from any liability to dealers“.

Another change concerns the protection against dismissal: If Amazon can cancel merchants without notice and lock their accounts without giving reasons, in the future a period of 30 days for “ordinary terminations“. At “extraordinary dismissals“Or blocking by violations of rights on the part of the dealer, Amazon is obliged in the future to justify the procedure.

For litigation is so far only Luxembourg as jurisdiction In the future, distributors may seek jurisdiction over a legal dispute with Amazon before another domestic court.

From the perspective of the dealer unauthorized returns In the future, there is also the possibility of opposition and a claim for compensation by Amazon.

Furthermore, the previously comprehensive Rights of use for product materials such as descriptions and images that merchants must grant to Amazon are limited to specific uses. The clause to Secrecy of the business relationship to Amazon should be relaxed.

The Market Regulations should also be easier for merchants to find and any changes to them with a notice period of 15 days in advance to be announced by Amazon.

As an alleged remedy against the abuse of customer reviews excludes Amazon product reviews from third parties so far from the Marketplace, but allows them for products in their own sale. For owners of a “Registered at Amazon“Will gain access to the evaluation program Vine”gradually opened“, It continues.

EU checks Amazon for anticompetitive behavior

For some time now Amazon has been targeting the antitrust agents of the European Union. Today was officially a “Investigation of possible anti-competitive behavior of Amazon“Initiated, informs the European Commission.

Again, the relationship between Amazon and the marketplace dealers in focus. However, above all, it should be explored, “whether and how the use of data collected by Amazon as a retailer through the marketplace dealers will affect competition“. Amazon obviously uses “competitive-sensitive information about marketplace traders, their products and the transactions made by the traders on the platform“, So the impression of the commission.

The second focus of the investigations is the selection of the dealers listed in the so-called “buy box”, through which customers can place products of a retailer directly into their shopping carts.

The suspicion of the European Commission reads:The investigated practices may be in breach of EU rules on anticompetitive agreements between undertakings (Article 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU)) and / or the EU rules on abuse of a dominant position (Article 102 TFEU). “

The responsibility for investigations and decrees in these areas is now no longer the responsibility of the member states, but of the superordinate EU Commission. Both Amazon and the competition authorities of the Member States are “on the initiation of proceedings in this case“Been. There is no binding deadline for the completion of the investigations.

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