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Brand owners: controlling internet sales while remaining compliant with competition law

Restrictions on internet distribution and competition law compliance generally do not mix. However, in a recent speech, Johannes Laitenberger, a high-ranking official within the Competition Directorate of the European Commission, stated that “while blanket internet sales bans are undoubtedly a hardcore restriction […] this does not apply to all restraints on online sales.” He was referring to a case, Coty, which is currently before the European Court of Justice (‘ECJ’) for a preliminary ruling on whether online sales restrictions linked to selective distribution systems are legitimate from a competition law perspective. Mark Tricker and Amanda Town of Norton Rose Fulbright LLP explore why this case will bring some much-needed clarity to an area where different competition authorities have taken different views and what this might mean for brand owners seeking to exercise control over how and where their products are sold online.

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