12th June 2015

EC opens a new Amazon antitrust case

On 11 June, the European Commission announced that its competition department will look into Amazon´s practices in the e-book business. Publishers and smaller e-book retailers have long complained that Amazon abuses its dominant position on the e-book market, mainly in English- and German-language literature (it has almost 80% market share in the UK, for example). According to the competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, Amazon obliged publishers to sign contracts containing a special clause stating that if the publisher offers a rival e-shop better conditions, it has the obligation to offer Amazon comparable or even better ones. This will be investigated since it could amount to anti-competitive behavior – it could effectively stop other players to enter business. There are no deadlines for the probe, neither does its opening mean that abuse has indeed taken place. Amazon is already being investigated for its tax dealings, as well as part of a large EC antitrust probe into e-commerce sector. According to Amazon, the disputed clauses are not anti-competitive and are in consumers´ interest.

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Members of the American Chamber of Commerce in the Czech Republic