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Online content providers face EU probe over geoblocking

Two out of three online content providers block consumers in another EU country from buying their products or services and could face investigation, European Union antitrust regulators said on Friday.

The findings by the European Commission came after a year long enquiry into barriers to cross border trade in electronics, clothing, shoes and Nike Air Footscape Magista Flyknit 816560-001 Men Gray Black White Melbourne digital content in the 28 country union during which it surveyed more than 1,400 companies on their business practices.

In addition, Nike Zoom Kobe Venomenon 5 EP Men White Red Australia Shop 38 per cent of consumer goods retailers in its survey said that they block consumers located in other EU countries, mainly by refusing to deliver abroad or accept foreign payment methods, and, to a lesser extent, by re routing or blocking website access.

While the majority of geoblocking results from unilateral business decisions by retailers, 12 per cent of retailers reported contractual restrictions on selling cross border for at least one product category they offer.

“Where a non dominant company decides unilaterally not to sell abroad, that is not an issue for competition law. But where geoblocking occurs due to agreements, we need to take a close look whether there is anti competitive behaviour, which can be addressed by EU competition tools,” European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said.

Antitrust experts say it may be difficult for regulators to find evidence of anti competitive behaviour.

“Where digital content is geoblocked this can often be a result of national intellectual property rights. Assessing whether this is a genuine concern or a pretext to separate the internal market is a delicate exercise in each of these cases,” said Bernd Meyring, a partner at law firm Linklaters.

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