Coty, Amazon, and the Future of Vertical Restraints: Evolving Distribution Norms on Both Atlantic Shores

14 Pages Posted: 24 Sep 2018

See all articles by Chris Sagers

Chris Sagers

Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, Cleveland State University

Date Written: September 6, 2018

Abstract

Coty Germany, GmbH v. Parfümerie Akzente, GmbH, a late 2017 decision of the European Court of Justice (ECJ), set off something of a tizzy along North Atlantic shores concerning the future of vertical restraints and distribution relationships in online commerce sectors. Generally, Coty seemed to reflect the sense that online distribution posed threats to them that were new or special. Firms and their lawyers saw need to protect their brands from the rapacity of big, no-frills, price-cutting online retailers, including above all Amazon. Sure enough, the same anxieties find expression in other broad policy initiatives relating to online commerce, including the “Better Deal” program of Democrats in the U.S. Congress and the European Union’s ambitious new “Digital Single Market” program. But all this anxiety might look rather different if—contrary to our usual habit—consider it in historical context. In fact recent developments may not really be so new, at least not any ways relevant to competition policy. In fact, technological innovation in distribution, and the tension that has always characterized relations of suppliers and distributors, is an old story, and has been associated with some of the bitterest politics in antitrust history. And in times past, when similar anxieties of aggressive or innovative distributors have been met with private trade restraints or lobbying for protectionist government intervention, it has often enough turned out that the motives were not so pure and the changes that were feared were not ultimately so bad.

Keywords: Coty, ECJ, EU law, European competition law, vertical restraints, RPM, Amazon, Sylvania, retail distribution

JEL Classification: L40, L42, L81, N42, N44

Suggested Citation

Sagers, Chris, Coty, Amazon, and the Future of Vertical Restraints: Evolving Distribution Norms on Both Atlantic Shores (September 6, 2018). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3245418 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3245418

Chris Sagers (Contact Author)

Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, Cleveland State University ( email )

2121 Euclid Avenue, LB 138
Cleveland, OH 44115-2214
United States

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
137
Abstract Views
510
rank
217,129
PlumX Metrics