On 18 November 2015, the French competition authority announced that it had closed its investigation into Adidas’ online sales terms, after the company changed the terms. The French competition authority carried out this investigation in cooperation with the German Federal Cartel Office (the Bundeskartellamt).
Adidas operates a selective distribution system under which distributors were prohibited from selling Adidas products on online, open, third-party platforms. Both the Bundeskartellamt and the French authority took the position that this restriction went beyond what was justifiable to ensure quality.
As a consequence, on 2 July 2014, Adidas removed this provision from its German distribution agreements, allowing distributors to also sell on online markets, including Amazon.com and eBay. On the same day, the Bundeskartellamt announced that it had closed the proceedings against Adidas. Wednesday’s decision by the French competition authority brings to an end all pending investigations into Adidas’ online sales terms.
The parallel investigations confirm the appetite of national competition authorities to police suppliers imposing tighter restrictions on online sales by branded goods suppliers that go beyond what is necessary to ensure quality and, as a result, reputation.