Spain’s high court has decided to suspend hefty fines amounting to a staggering 194 million euros ($209 million) imposed on tech giants Amazon and Apple by the local antitrust watchdog, CNMC, back in July. This decision comes pending an appeal filed by the two companies, according to a statement from an Amazon spokesperson on Thursday.
The fines were levied against Amazon and Apple by CNMC on allegations of collusion aimed at restricting other retailers from selling Apple products on Amazon’s Spanish platforms. Specifically, Apple was fined 143.6 million euros while Amazon faced a penalty of 50.5 million euros. Both companies had promptly declared their intentions to challenge the ruling.
The suspension of the fine payments by the high court is a procedural step within the appeal process, as clarified by the Amazon spokesperson. It’s essential to note that this move neither prefigures a decision in favor of the tech giants nor against them.
Amazon has previously asserted that the collaboration with Apple had led to an increase in the availability of discounts on Apple devices across its platforms. Conversely, Apple defended the partnership, emphasizing its commitment to safeguarding customers from counterfeit products.
CNMC’s investigation highlighted a contract signed between Amazon and Apple in October 2018, which granted Amazon the status of an authorized Apple dealer on its Spanish websites. However, CNMC alleged that this agreement included anti-competitive clauses, effectively inhibiting over 90% of existing retailers from selling Apple products on Amazon’s marketplace.
Despite requests for comment, an Apple spokesperson declined to provide any further insight into the matter at hand.
The suspension of these fines marks another chapter in the ongoing legal battle between tech giants and regulatory bodies worldwide, reflecting the complexities and challenges inherent in navigating antitrust regulations within the digital sphere. As the appeal process progresses, all eyes will remain on the Spanish high court’s forthcoming decisions regarding this contentious issue.