Did Amazon and Apple enter an illegal alliance?

After Apple started selling its products directly on Amazon, a lot of external sellers were banned from the platform and prices have gone up. A US watchdog looks if this is legal.

 

Apple has resellers delisted

Before last year's agreement that had Apple selling its iPhones directly on Amazon, the sale of its products was limited to resellers. The move to start selling directly was supposed to be a part of the war on counterfeit products, but now it turns out that hundreds of legitimate sellers of cheaper or refurbished Apple products have been banned from the platform. This has caused the American Federal Trade Commission to take an interest in the deal, specialist website The Verge reports.

 

A lot of resellers, who counted on Amazon to sell their products, were given a letter of cancellation in November, one of the companies involved told The Verge. Only resellers with an official Apple approval were allowed to sell on Amazon. A way out for refurbished products, the Amazon Marketplace, is still open - but is only meant for smaller players. The deal however has a whiff of illegality around it: by excluding external (cheaper?) parties, both companies actually enforce a minimum price - and that may be a violation of American trade laws. The FTC suspects there may be a breach of antitrust laws and has now reportedly got in touch with delisted sellers in order to prepare a court case.

 

It would not be the first antitrust case against Amazon: a European investigation is ongoing about market place sellers being possibly given worse conditions, and in Germany the platform has made its conditions more transparent after another legal case.