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Austrian Federal Competition Authority initiates investigation proceedings against Amazon

The Austrian Federal Competition Authority (BWB) received in December 2018 complaints about Amazon Services Europe S.à.r.l. concerning unfair trade practices against Austrian retailers being active on the Amazon-market place.

After a first analysis, discussions with the European Commission (DG Competition) and the German Bundeskartellamt, the BWB has decided to initiate investigation proceedings concerning suspected infringements of Austrian and European Competition Law.

The BWB will examine, whether Amazon abused its dominant position against retailers, that are active on the Amazon market place.

It is suspected that Amazon discriminates against other retailers and thereby tries to inordinately favour its own products on the Amazon marketplace.

The Austrian trade association (Handelsverband) submitted several complaints of Austrian retailers, which are now being examined.

According to current information, unfair trade practices which might be considered are the following:

  • abrupt termination of seller-accounts
  • obligation to disclose purchase prices
  • adding of incorrect delivery details by Amazon to the sellers’ accounts
  • unjustified loss of product rankings of sellers
  • jurisdiction clauses, which complicate to take legal actions.

The investigation proceedings of the BWB will include a market survey.

“The digital world is not a legal vacuum. Companies operating on a global scale must adhere to applicable Austrian laws and regulations. The BWB will make an in-depth analysis in this case. The outcome might be commitments, an application for a fine or an application for termination of infringements to the Cartel Court. However, the results of the examination must be awaited before taking next steps.” explains Theodor Thanner, Director General of the BWB.

The BWB has the intention to cooperate closely with the German Bundeskartellamt, which initiated abuse proceedings against Amazon in November 2018.

The presumption of innocence applies until a final decision by the Cartel Court.