According to a report in the German “Frankfurt Allergy” daily newspaper, the German antitrust authorities have launched an investigation into Amazon and Apple regarding possible anti-competitive behavior.

Amazon prohibits certain third-party traders on its e-commerce platform from offering certain branded products, and the German Federal Cartel Office is investigating whether this complies with German law.

The newspaper quoted Andreas Mundt, president of the Cartel Office, as saying: “For some brands, all merchants except Amazon itself and their respective brand manufacturers are excluded.”

Amazon said it is working with German authorities and added that it will continue to invest to protect its from illegal goods.

Apple said it is complying with the law and looks forward to sharing facts with the German competition authority.

The Federal Cartel Office did not immediately comment on the matter.

The agreement can provide protection against product piracy. However, the ban on third-party distributors must “observe the principle of proportionality and must not lead to elimination of competition,” Mond said.

He said that the most prominent example is the cooperation between Amazon and mobile phone manufacturer Apple. Only Apple dealers and Amazon can provide this service on the platform.

A new investigation into Amazon’s treatment of third-party traders was launched after the German competition regulator conducted an investigation into whether and how Amazon affected the price setting of its market traders in August.

Germany is Amazon’s second largest market after the United States. In Germany, third-party traders accounted for 65% of sales from March 2020 to May 2020.

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Last year, Amazon reached an agreement with German authorities to completely change its terms of service for third-party merchants, prompting the office to abandon a seven-month investigation.

© Thomson Reuters 2020

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