Spain’s antitrust watchdog CNMC has levied a stunning $218 million fine on U.S. tech giants Apple and Amazon for working together on limiting online sales of devices offered by Apple’s competitors in Spain.
The two companies are said to have inked an agreement on October 31, 2018, that made Amazon an authorized Apple dealer in the country. The agreement included anti-competitive clauses that impacted the availability of electronic devices from other brands in the country.
As a result, Apple has been handed out a fine of $161.2 million, while Amazon is expected to pay $56.7 million.
Both Apple and Amazon plan to appeal the ruling within the next two months, which is the mandated timeframe for filing an appeal.
“The two companies restricted without justification the number of sellers of Apple products on the Amazon website in Spain,” CNMC said.
The watchdog added that because of the anti-competition clauses in the agreement, over 90% of retailers who were previously using Amazon to sell Apple devices were blocked from doing so. In addition, Amazon limited the capability of EU sellers based outside Spain to reach customers in the country. And it also blocked Apple’s competitors from placing relevant ads on its marketplace that should have come up when users searched for Apple products.
According to CNMC, all these efforts resulted in an increase in the price consumers paid for Apple devices in Spain.
In response, Apple has rejected the claims, noting that the agreement with Amazon intended to crack down on the number of counterfeit products that were sold online as the company had previously put a lot of time, effort, and money into sending “take-down” notices to stop the sale of counterfeit products.
Similarly, Amazon issued a statement claiming that CNMC’s fine lacked merit.
“We reject the suggestion made by CNMC that Amazon benefits from excluding sellers from its marketplace, as our business model hinges precisely on the success of the companies selling through Amazon,” the Amazon spokesperson told Reuters.
CNMC’s attempt to crack down on Apple and Amazon reportedly follows a similar case in Italy, where the two companies were fined for similar reasons. However, the case was eventually dropped by the Italian regulator.