- Huw Hughes |
US Sportswear giant Nike has been fined 12.5 million euros by the European Commission for blocking traders from selling licensed football merchandise to other countries within the EEA.
The European Commission said the illegal practices took place for around 13 years - between 1 July 2004 and 27 October 2017 - and related to licensed merchandise for some of Europe’s biggest clubs such as FC Barcelona, Manchester United, Juventus, Inter Milan, AS Roma and the French Football Federation. The case focused on Nike's role as a licensor for manufacturing and distributing licensed merchandise featuring a soccer club's brands rather than its own trademarks.
"Football fans often cherish branded products from their favourite teams, such as jerseys or scarves. Nike prevented many of its licensees from selling these branded products in a different country leading to less choice and higher prices for consumers,” Margrethe Vestager, commissioner in charge of competition policy, said in a statement.
Nike fined for breaching competition rules
“This is illegal under EU antitrust rules. Today's decision makes sure that retailers and consumers can take full advantage of one of the main benefits of the Single Market: the ability to shop around Europe for a larger variety of products and for the best deals."
The European Commission’s two-year antitrust investigation was launched in 2017 to assess whether Nike was illegally restricting traders from selling licensed merchandise cross-border and online within the EU Single Market.
Earlier in March, the commission fined Google 1.49 billion euros for breaching EU antitrust rules. According to the Commission, Google forced its AdSense clients to sign contracts prohibiting them from accepting advertising from rival search engines. In January 2018, Guess was fined 39.8 million euros by the commission for infringing EU antitrust rules by imposing restrictions on retailers’ ability to compete online.
Pictures: Nike newsroom