Get active against sales restrictions by brands
Since since 2013 Choice in Ecommerce have been lobbying against sales restrictions imposed by manufacturers and brands. They filed a petition with more than 14,000 signatures from retailers from all across Europe to the EU Commission. This action, amongst other, led to a sector inquiry on eCommerce by the EU Commission.
Last year, Choice in Ecommerce published a list of nearly 2,000 manufacturers and brands who restrict online sales in seven different ways.
Now they want to go one step further and want to recruit sellers impacted by brand restrictions to help make their voices heard. They are gathering data to present the EU Commission with detailed information on exactly how retailers across Europe are being restricted by brands with a specific focus on sporting goods and in particular outdoor clothing. They are particularly interested in hearing from you if you sell a brand in the following table:
Choice in Ecommerce particularly want to hear from you if you sell online across the EU, suffer from at least one restriction in the table above, or have suffered from loss of turnover or had to fire staff due to sales bans or see a growing trend towards brand controls by manufacturers and brands.
If you would like to make your voice heard, contact Anna Duleczus by phone +49-30-49876660 or email email@example.com to discuss your situation in confidence. Any sensitive information will be held under highest confidentiality. To start with, reports on the manufacturers mentioned above are of interest and no names of any businesses or persons are required.
The European Commission is showing some interest on this specific matter. According to a Preliminary Report on the E-commerce Sector Inquiry, published on 15.9.2016 and open to public discussion up to November 2016:
“The preliminary results of the sector inquiry suggest that some retailers are limited in their ability to use or bid on the trademarks of certain manufacturers in order to get a preferential listing on the search engines paid referencing service (such as Google Adwords) or are only allowed to bid on certain positions. Such restrictions typically aim at preventing retailer’s websites from appearing prominently in the case of usage of specific keywords. This may be in the interest of the manufacturer in order to allow its own retail activities to benefit from a top listing and keep bidding prices down. Given the importance of search engines for attracting customers to the retailers’ website and improving the findability of their online offer, such restrictions may also raise concerns under Article 101 TFEU as they restrict the ability of retailers to attract online customers. Conversely, restrictions on the ability of retailers to use the trademark/brand name of the manufacturer in the retailer’s own domain name rather help avoiding confusion with the manufacturer’s website”
The Antritrust Authority in Germany has “forced” Adidas and Asics to remove similar clauses from their commercial agreements with distributors: http://www.bundeskartellamt.de/SharedDocs/Meldung/EN/Pressemitteilungen/2015/27_08_2015_ASICS.html
We can expect some action at the EU level in 2017.