Spain fines Amazon and Apple for alleged price-fixing

After a 2018 deal, Apple’s competitors reportedly had a harder time reaching customers.

Amazon España

Spain has fined Amazon and Apple a total of 194.1 million euros (over $218 million) for antitrust violations. According to Reuters, the penalties relate to a deal the companies made in 2018 that made Amazon an authorized Apple dealer but also included alleged anti-competitive clauses. “The two companies restricted without justification the number of sellers of Apple products on the Amazon website in Spain,” Spain’s antitrust regulator, Comisión Nacional de los Mercados y la Competencia (CNMC), said today.

The CNMC fined Apple 143.6 million euros and Amazon 50.5 million euros for their role in the alleged price-fixing conspiracy, based on contracts signed on October 31st, 2018. The agency said over 90 percent of existing vendors selling Apple products on Amazon were blocked from the storefront after the deal. In addition, Amazon allegedly restricted non-Spanish retailers in the European Union from reaching Spanish customers. The online retailer also supposedly diminished the allowed advertising from Apple’s competitors in consumer search results for Apple devices.

According to the CNMC, the result was higher online prices for Apple devices listed and sold in Spain.

Amazon and Apple denied that the deal hurt consumers in separate statements to Reuters. “We reject the suggestion made by CNMC that Amazon benefits from excluding sellers from its market place, as our business model hinges precisely on the success of the companies selling through Amazon,” an Amazon representative told the news outlet today. Similarly, Apple said the deal was about limiting counterfeit sales, adding that it had previously spent lots of money on hundreds of thousands of take-down notices for fake products.

The companies have two months to appeal the antitrust watchdog’s decision. Spokespeople for both firms told Reuters they plan to do just that.