Coty Denies Its Policies Ban Online Sales During Court Hearings In Europe

On demand marketplace

German beauty products maker Coty denied that its distribution policies indicate an overall ban on online sales during a landmark case in Europe that could determine whether luxury goods companies can stop retailers from selling their products through online marketplaces.

According to Reuters, U.S.-based Coty is locked in a dispute with German retailer Parfumerie Akzente, which sells the company’s goods on sites including Amazon against Coty’s wishes. The company insists that its agreements preventing retailers from selling on third-party online platforms are not about imposing a ban, but simply about protecting the image and quality of its products. This issue is of significance in Europe, which comprises 70 percent of global luxury sales.

“In Germany, we have a saying a picture is worth a thousand words; in this case, a name is worth a thousand words,” Coty’s lawyer, Andreas Lubberger, told the Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ).

But online platforms say these types of agreements are anti-competitive and hurt small businesses.

“If you are talking about a well-known marketplace which sells products to consumers, then you need proper considerations to ban it,” Parfumerie Akzente’s lawyer Oliver Spieker told judges. “Amazon and eBay already sell well-known brands — do these brands have more to lose than Coty?”

While the German government added that online platforms were key outlets for small and medium-sized businesses, France — home to luxury brands such as Louis Vuitton, Chanel and Christian Dior — came to Coty’s defense, saying a restriction on online sales protects the prestige of these products.

An ECJ court adviser will issue a non-binding opinion in the coming months.