By Mauro Orru

 

A court in Italy scrapped a 173.3 million-euro ($169.9 million) antitrust fine that the country's competition watchdog had levied on Apple Inc. and Amazon.com Inc., saying the regulator hadn't given the tech giants enough time to prepare their defense.

The Italian Competition Authority, or AGCM, issued more than $225 million in fines to Apple and Amazon in November last year, saying they colluded to exclude legitimate resellers of Apple and Beats products from Amazon's Italian marketplace. Beats, the audio brand acquired by Apple in 2014, makes consumer headphones, earphones and speakers.

The fines--subsequently trimmed by AGCM to EUR173.3 million due to a calculation error--stemmed from a 2018 agreement between Apple and Amazon that let the companies pick which resellers of Apple and Beats products were allowed on amazon.it and ban others, the regulator said at the time.

The agreement also hindered cross-border sales as it effectively allowed Apple and Amazon to restrict the number of allowed resellers and discriminate against them on a geographical basis in breach of European Union treaties, AGCM said.

A regional court in Rome on Monday scrapped the fine, arguing that the regulator had rushed through the proceedings and undermined Apple and Amazon's ability to defend themselves.

"Such excessive brevity is, a fortiori, unjustified given the overall duration and relevance of the proceedings," the court said in a statement.

The Italian competition watchdog said it had no comment. Apple didn't respond to a request for comment, while Amazon said it welcomed the court's decision.

"Our business model across Europe relies on the success of small and medium-sized businesses, and we will continue to work hard to provide a great selection from Apple, and the value and convenience that our customers love," Amazon said in a statement.

 

Write to Mauro Orru at mauro.orru@wsj.com; @MauroOrru94

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

October 03, 2022 12:00 ET (16:00 GMT)

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