Spain Freezes $209 Million Fines on Apple & Amazon Pending Appeal

The high court of Spain has temporarily halted the enforcement of 194 million euros ($209 million) in fines that were imposed on Amazon and Apple by the local antitrust watchdog in July. This suspension, announced by an Amazon spokesperson on Thursday, is in place pending an appeal initiated by the tech giants. It’s important to note that this action is a customary step in the appeals process and does not necessarily indicate the court’s final determination.

The spokesperson added that the National High Court in Madrid cited “precautionary considerations” when it decided to suspend the fines, such as the impact on the companies’ income statements and capacity to invest in the affected market. The suspension also allows both companies to bid in public tenders while the case proceeds, a spokeswoman for the court said.

In October 2018, Amazon and Apple signed contracts that incorporated clauses that stifled competition by preventing over 90% of retailers from selling Apple products on the online retailer’s websites in Spain, the CNMC said. The regulator said that the contracts also restricted advertising by Apple’s competitors on Amazon’s websites and influenced results when users searched for Apple products. CNMC added that prices for Apple devices rose after the contracts were signed. The CNMC launched the investigation in July after finding evidence that Apple and Amazon had abused their dominant positions by limiting sales of Apple products to consumers on Amazon’s websites.

Both Apple and Amazon at the time vowed to fight the decision, which saw each fined 143.6 million euros and 50.5 million euros, respectively. The CNMC said that the agreement broke European Union rules on restrictive practices and prevented dealers other than Amazon from selling Apple wares on Amazon’s sites in Spain, leading to higher prices for buyers.

Apple and Amazon argued that the agreements helped to tackle counterfeits, safety concerns, and other issues that had yet to be addressed on their websites before the contracts were signed. They also pointed to a separate investigation in Italy that resulted in similar fines for the two companies before that case was eventually dropped.

The CNMC’s latest case is part of a broader crackdown on Big Tech, with the EU and national authorities investigating cases against Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and other companies over data collection and pricing practices, among other issues. The European Commission has said it will take firmer action against companies that break EU rules next year, including possibly more fines. It has already imposed more than 20 billion euros in fines over data collection practices alone. The companies have a month to file an appeal against the CNMC decision with the national court in Madrid. Apple and Amazon filed a similar appeal in a case launched by the Italian competition authority that resulted in a fine of 231 million euros in November last year.

Chelsea Bonner

Hello, my name is Chelsea Bonner, With a body of work that encompasses everything from heart-wrenching dramas to epic adventures, I have proven time to time again that I am a true literary chameleon, able to adapt any style and tone to suit any genre or subject matter. Beyond my impressive literary achievements, I am also a respected figure in the writing community, serving as a mentor and role model to aspiring writers around the world. My commitment to fostering the next generation of talent is truly inspirational, and their impact on the literary world will be felt for years to come.

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