Germany’s antitrust watchdog is investigating Amazon and Apple for engaging in a practice called ‘brand-gating’ where Amazon removes listings of independent sellers selling branded products like Apple’s iPhone, German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported, highlight another major antitrust investigation into U.S. tech giants in Europe.
Amazon and Apple’s ‘brand-gating’ agreement is under scrutiny in Germany.
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Under a ‘brand-gating’ agreement, if a company supplies products to Amazon as a retailer, the e-commerce giant offers them an opportunity to exclude third-party retailers from selling these products on Amazon’s marketplace.
These agreements can reportedly be very “far-reaching” in some cases excluding all retailers from selling a product except Amazon or the product’s manufacturer itself.
According to the report, the most prominent example of such a deal is the one Amazon has with Apple, as iPhone and other Apple products can only be sold on Amazon’s marketplace by authorized Apple dealers and Amazon itself.
The Federal Cartel Office told Bloomberg that such brand-gating agreements “can help to protect against product piracy” but noted that such measures must be in line with antitrust rules and should not result in eliminating competition.
In a statement shared with Bloomberg, Apple defended the practice, claiming that customer safety was its first priority and it works with “e-commerce sites around the world to remove counterfeit products from the market,” adding that it works with Amazon to provide its customers’ confidence