EU fines Nike €12.5m for breaching competition rules on cross-border sales

Clothing brand broke anti-trust regulations, EU concluded

The Nike case was launched in June, 2017 as part of Brussels’ crackdown on restrictions on retailers that prevent people buying from websites based in another member state, so-called geo-blocking, which is a breach of the EU’s competition rules.

The Nike case was launched in June, 2017 as part of Brussels’ crackdown on restrictions on retailers that prevent people buying from websites based in another member state, so-called geo-blocking, which is a breach of the EU’s competition rules.

 

Brussels fined Nike €12.5 million for unlawfully restricting cross-border sales of football shirts, scarves and other merchandise, raising prices and reducing choice for consumers.

EU officials concluded that, between 2004 to 2017, Nike broke the union’s antitrust rules when it banned retailers from selling merchandise for clubs, such as FC Barcelona, Manchester United, Juventus, Inter Milan and AS Roma, as well as some national football federations, into other countries in the European economic area.

Margrethe Vestager, EU competition commissioner, said: “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. 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.”

Nike co-operated with the investigation and the fine was thereby reduced by 40 per cent.

The case was launched in June, 2017 as part of Brussels’ crackdown on restrictions on retailers that prevent people buying from websites based in another member state, so-called geo-blocking, which is a breach of the EU’s competition rules.

Two separate probes that opened at the same time continue to investigate geo-blocking restrictions on Sanrio’s licences for brands such as Hello Kitty and Universal Studios’ merchandising rights for films such as Despicable Me and Minions.

EU officials also continue to investigate Nike’s tax arrangements in the Netherlands as part of the enforcer’s crackdown on sweetheart tax deals that has caught out companies, including Apple, Starbucks, Amazon, Fiat and Engie.– Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2019