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NEWS

Spain antitrust watchdog fines Amazon, Apple $218 million

MADRID (Reuters) – Spain’s antitrust watchdog on Tuesday said it had imposed fines worth a total 194.1 million euros ($218.03 million) on Amazon and Apple for colluding to limit the online sale of devices from Apple and competitors in Spain.

The two contracts the companies signed on Oct. 31, 2018 granting Amazon the status of authorized Apple dealer included anti-competitive clauses that affected the online market for electronic devices in Spain, CNMC, as the watchdog is known, said in a statement.

Apple was fined 143.6 million euros and Amazon 50.5 million euros. The two companies have two months to appeal the decision.

Spokespeople from Apple and Amazon separately said their respective companies intend to appeal the fines.

“The two companies restricted without justification the number of sellers of Apple products on the Amazon website in Spain,” CNMC said.

More than 90% of the existing retailers who were using Amazon’s market place to sell Apple devices were blocked as a result, it added.

Amazon also reduced the capacity of retailers in the European Union based outside Spain to access Spanish customers, and restricted the advertising Apple’s competitors were allowed to place on its website when users searched for Apple products, the regulator said.

Following the deal between the two tech giants, the prices of Apple devices sold online rose in Spain, it added.

“We reject the suggestion made by CNMC that Amazon benefits from excluding sellers from its market place, as our business model hinges precisely on the success of the companies selling through Amazon,” the Amazon spokesperson said in an emailed statement.

She added that Apple device buyers benefited from the deal, and the number of discounts on iPads and iPhones increased.

Apple said the agreement with Amazon was designed to limit the number of counterfeits sold online. Previously, the company was spending a lot of money and effort to send hundreds of thousands of ‘take-down’ notices to stop the sale of counterfeited devices, it said.

Reuters reported in October on a case in Italy involving the two companies that had similarities to the one brought in Spain. That action initially saw them facing 200 million euros in fines, before it was eventually dropped.

($1 = 0.8902 euros)

 

(This story has been refiled to clarify attribution in paragraph 12)

 

(Reporting by Inti Landauro, additional reporting by Elvira Pollina; Editing by David Latona, Charlie Devereux and Jan Harvey)

 

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