[EU Law] What brands should not do when monitoring retailer prices?
The European Commission started an inquiry into the e-commerce sector within the European Union in May 2015. The investigation identified several concerns such as the use of price comparison tools, restrictions imposed on selling products via online marketplaces and restricting retailers from selling products in other member states.
As well as a result of the initial inquiry, in September 2016, three new lines of investigation were started. The sectors were hotel pricing, video-games, and consumer electronics. On the subject of consumer electronics, the commission wanted to investigate whether online retailers were being restricted by manufacturers to set their prices for items such as notebook computers, hi-fi products, and household appliances.
After the inquiry, the European Commission looked very closely at retail price maintenance (RPM). Subsequently, in July 2018, the European Commission imposed fines of €111 million against four companies. Namely Asus, Denon & Marantz, Philips, and Pioneer.
It was the first time in 15 years that the European Commission had imposed penalties for resale price maintenance. The EU was sending a message that anti-competitive restrictions by manufacturers would not be tolerated.
The increasing of awareness for Antitrust Law
So are the EU resting on their laurels again after fining the four companies?
No! In recent years, the EU governments have paid more attention to e-commerce activities and navigate potential anti-trust law breach. The EU commission has announced charges of some big brands and some are under investigation.