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Apple and Amazon face $218M fine for antitrust violation in Spain

A thorough two-year investigation led to credible evidence, imposing fines totaling 194.1 million euros on both companies.

Madrid, 19 July, 2023 (GNP): Spain’s antitrust agency, Comision Nacional De Los Mercados Y La Competencia (CNMC), has imposed a combined fine of $218 million on tech giants Apple and Amazon.

The penalty came as a result of their collaboration with consolidating third-party iPhone, Mac, and iPad resellers on Amazon’s platform, with the investigation launched in July 2021.

The probe sought to ascertain if the companies engaged in unfair collusion to stifle competition for electronic products in the online retail market. Specifically, CNMC looked for evidence of agreements that exclusively restricted the sale of Apple products to Amazon.

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After a thorough two-year investigation, they found the evidence they sought and imposed fines totaling 194.1 million euros on both companies.

Responding to the fine, Amazon issued a statement refuting CNMC’s claim that excluding sellers benefits their marketplace. They emphasized that their business model relies on the success of companies selling through their platform.

Both Apple and Amazon argue that the consolidation benefits consumers, safeguards against counterfeit products, and enhances the availability of discounts for customers.

The authorities fined Apple 143.6 million euros out of the total penalty, while Amazon received a fine of 50.5 million euros. Both companies have expressed their intention to challenge the decision within the provided two-month timeframe.

The agreement between Apple and Amazon to directly sell Apple products on the platform was implemented globally, starting in November 2018. The agreement covers the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, and Spain.

Before this agreement, Apple products were either unavailable or solely sold through third-party marketplaces, leading to varying price points and product conditions for Amazon customers.

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In the United States, resellers are required to either obtain authorization from Apple or purchase a minimum of $2.5 million worth of refurbished inventory every 90 days under the Apple-Amazon agreement. This inventory must come directly from Apple or through a third party with over $5 billion in annual sales, usually carriers and national retailers. The terms in Spain are yet to be clarified.

As a result of the agreement, many third-party Apple resellers in the United States have shut down, with the trend escalating in recent years. The expansion of Apple’s retail outlets and the Amazon deal has resulted in the decline of these resellers.