Apple and Amazon Face Antitrust Scrutiny in Germany Over 'Brandgating'

Apple and Amazon are set to face antitrust scrutiny in Germany over a policy that forbids independent sellers from retailing Apple products on Amazon, Bloomberg reports.

amazon

Germany's antitrust regulator, the Federal Cartel Office, has launched a probe into Apple and Amazon over the policy of "brandgating." The policy allows the makers of branded products, such as the iPhone, to have independent sellers removed from the retail platform, providing Amazon can sell the items instead.

"Brandgating agreements can help to protect against product piracy," the Cartel Office said in a statement. "But such measures must be proportionate to be in line with antitrust rules and may not result in eliminating competition."

Amazon responded, saying it never removes the sales permissions of sellers without sound reasons, and it invests heavily to protect customers from the illegal distribution of goods. The company has agreed to cooperate with the investigation.

The Cartel Office said that Apple is a "prominent" example of how Amazon conducts brandgating, which can purportedly take various forms. Amazon has only permitted Apple authorized vendors to sell Apple products on its platform since 2019. Amazon simultaneously became an Apple authorized vendor.

"The safety of our customers is our first priority, and our teams are constantly working with law enforcement, resellers, and e-commerce sites around the world to remove counterfeit products from the market," Apple said in a statement. "We work with Amazon to protect our customers from counterfeit products and provide confidence they are receiving a genuine Apple product out of the box."

The two companies have been investigated for similar accusations in the past, such as allegedly blocking the sale of Apple and Beats devices from resellers in order to stifle competition and fix prices.

Apple and Amazon are among the big tech companies under scrutiny around the world, particularly in the European Union, where a new Digital Services Act is poised to hit big tech with wide-reaching regulations.

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Top Rated Comments

macduke Avatar
48 months ago
Amazon was notorious for years for selling fake Apple products. People were even getting injured by fake chargers that were catching on fire! And now they want to reverse that? Amazon still has problems with tons of fake products, fake reviews, existing product pages being purchased and swapped out for a completely different product to inflate reviews, etc. It's a mess. This was the one good thing they've done in recent years, probably because Apple was threatening to sue them because it makes them look terrible, and Germany wants to ruin it? Also not sure why Apple can't have authorized resellers. Lots of companies do this. I can't even get service on a camera unless I buy it from an authorized reseller most of the time.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Peepo Avatar
48 months ago
Why can’t Apple choose who it wants to sell their products and also control retail price? If this changes then coiuld see lots of sellers offering “branded” Apple accessories which are really fake knockoffs, and maybe even scalping hard to find Apple products eg. New iPhones that are hard to get.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
dwaltwhit Avatar
48 months ago
I have to plead ignorance here: I read this article twice and I still don’t understand what brandgating is.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
centauratlas Avatar
48 months ago

Why can’t Apple choose who it wants to sell their products and also control retail price? If this changes then coiuld see lots of sellers offering “branded” Apple accessories which are really fake knockoffs, and maybe even scalping hard to find Apple products eg. New iPhones that are hard to get.
Exactly. What you will see next from the Germany government (as somewhat referenced in the article) is:

"why isn't Amazon doing more to stop counterfeit products? The people of Germany are purchasing what they think are iPhones (or whatever) and getting non-Apple pseudo clones."
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
anthogag Avatar
48 months ago
It is looking like the big tech companies are forming cozy relationships left and right. The solution is simple...right in front of your nose...make Amazon go back to selling only books.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
SirithX Avatar
48 months ago

I have to plead ignorance here: I read this article twice and I still don’t understand what brandgating is.
Know how you can go on Amazon and look up products and multiple 3rd party resellers are selling that product, but a lot of the time it's a knock off instead of the real thing? That's basically what they're trying to protect against, by stopping resellers in the event that the actual first party is able to sell the product to you directly.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)