A court in Italy overturned an antitrust penalty of 173.3 million euros ($169.9 million) that the nation’s competition watchdog had imposed on Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Amazon.com Inc.(NASDAQ:AMZN), claiming the regulator hadn’t given the tech titans enough time to prepare their defense.
Apple Inc (AAPL Stock) and Amazon.com Inc (AMZN Stock)
In November of last year, the Italian Competition Authority, or AGCM, fined Apple Inc and Amazon.com Inc a total of more than $225 million for conspiring to exclude genuine dealers of Apple and Beats items from Amazon’s Italian marketplace. Consumer headphones, earphones, and speakers are produced by Beats, an audio company that Apple purchased in 2014.
The fines resulted from a 2018 agreement between Apple (AAPL Stock) and Amazon (AMZN Stock) that enabled the firms to choose which resellers of Apple and Beats items were permitted on amazon. The fines were then reduced by AGCM to EUR173.3 million as a result of a mathematical error.
The regulator claimed at the time that it prohibited others.
According to AGCM, the arrangement prevented cross-border sales by essentially allowing Apple (AAPL Stock) and Amazon (AMZN Stock) to limit the number of authorized dealers and treat them differently based on their location in violation of EU rules.
Earlier this week, a regional court in Rome overturned the sentence, claiming that the regulator hurried the process and made it difficult for Apple and Amazon to defend themselves.
The court stated in a statement that “such extreme shortness is, a fortiori, unreasonable considering the entire duration and gravity of the proceedings.”
The Italian competition authority stated that it had nothing to add. Amazon stated it was pleased with the court’s ruling, while Apple declined to comment.
Amazon stated in a statement: “We will keep working hard to deliver a fantastic variety from Apple, and the value and convenience that our customers appreciate. Our business model across Europe depends on the success of small and medium-sized enterprises. A court in Italy scrapped a 173.3 million-euro ($169.9 million) antitrust fine that the country’s competition watchdog had levied on Apple Inc. and Amazon.com Inc., saying the regulator hadn’t given the tech giants enough time to prepare their defense.
The Italian Competition Authority, or AGCM, issued more than $225 million in fines to Apple and Amazon in November last year, saying they colluded to exclude legitimate resellers of Apple and Beats products from Amazon’s Italian marketplace. Beats, the audio brand acquired by Apple in 2014, makes consumer headphones, earphones, and speakers.
The fines–subsequently trimmed by AGCM to EUR173.3 million due to a calculation error–stemmed from a 2018 agreement between Apple and Amazon that let the companies pick which resellers of Apple and Beats products were allowed on amazon. It and ban others, the regulator, said at the time.
The agreement also hindered cross-border sales as it effectively allowed Apple and Amazon to restrict the number of allowed resellers and discriminate against them on a geographical basis in breach of European Union treaties, AGCM said.
A regional court in Rome on Monday scrapped the fine, arguing that the regulator had rushed through the proceedings and undermined Apple and Amazon’s ability to defend themselves.
“Such excessive brevity is, a fortiori, unjustified given the overall duration and relevance of the proceedings,” the court said in a statement.
The Italian competition watchdog said it had no comment. Apple didn’t respond to a request for comment, while Amazon said it welcomed the court’s decision.
“Our business model across Europe relies on the success of small and medium-sized businesses, and we will continue to work hard to provide a great selection from Apple and the value and convenience that our customers love,” Amazon said in a statement.
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