German Federal Cartel Office investigates price parity clauses applied by Amazon Marketplace

On 20 February 2013, the German Federal Cartel Office (Bundeskartellamt) launched a survey to examine the effects of the price parity clause used by for its Marketplace sellers.

The price parity clause prohibits Marketplace sellers from selling products they offer on Amazon Marketplace cheaper on any other online channel. The prohibition applies to other online platforms, such as eBay or Rakuten, as well as online shops owned by the sellers.

According to Andreas Mundt, President of the Bundeskartellamt, the price parity clause imposed by would prevent sellers from selling a product offered through Amazon cheaper on another internet sales channel, in breach of the general ban on cartels. Mr. Mundt stated that such a risk may materialize, in particular, if the price parity clause also restricts competition between the different online marketplaces, which appears a likely outcome, since, normally, sellers have an interest in offering their products on several online marketplaces.

In principle, if the concerns expressed by the Bundeskartellamt were confirmed as a result of the survey, Amazon could be required to delete the price parity clause from its terms and conditions. [Gabriele Accardo]