We often write on these pages about the European Commission's push back against big tech. The regulatory body sees tech companies has dangerous in terms of market dominance and monopolizing practices. For the most part, this has been against giants like Google, Microsoft, Facebook, and Apple.
However, today the European Commission announced it has fined four leading consumer electronics brands. Philips, Pioneer, Asus, and Denon & Marantz have been fined a combined €111 million. EU members believe the companies fix online resale prices.
Each of the four companies originally faced a higher penalty, but all agreed to work with the EU. After concessions, the European Commission reduced the fine.
EU Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, fresh off hitting Google with a record $5 billion fine, released a statement detailing the case. She says the four manufacturers fixed prices and customers were forced to pay more for goods. Philips, Pioneer, Asus, and Denon & Marantz make household domestic appliances and electronics devices.
“This is illegal under EU antitrust rules. Our decisions today show that EU competition rules serve to protect consumers where companies stand in the way of more price competition and better choice,” said Vestager.
If a retailer was offering lower prices than @ASUS @dmprofessional, Pioneer and @Philips wanted, they told that retailer to increase prices, so consumers had to pay more. This is illegal under EU rules. The 4 companies admitted and cooperated, so fine reduced to €111 mio total.
— Margrethe Vestager (@vestager) July 24, 2018
Each company took part in “fixed or minimum resale price maintenance (RPM)”. By pressuring online retailers, the manufacturers prevented prices from becoming low.
Asus was found to be the biggest offender and received a fine of €63.5 million. The company was accused of fixing prices in Germany and France between 2011 and 2014.
As mentioned, the EU has taken a dim view on market problems caused by tech companies. Last week the Commission handed Google its second record antitrust fine.
The European Commission says the fine regards three restrictions Google placed on Android device OEMs. Under European laws the restrictions break antitrust regulations.
Margrethe Vestager, European Commissioner for Competition, said the company is monopolizing search:
“Our case is about three types of restrictions that Google has imposed on Android device manufacturers and network operators to ensure that traffic on Android devices goes to the Google search engine. In this way, Google has used Android as a vehicle to cement the dominance of its search engine.”