Federal Cartel Office forces Amazon to make changes to terms and conditions for sellers

Due to antitrust concerns of the Federal Cartel Office, Amazon is changing its terms and conditions for merchants on Amazon’s online marketplaces.

The changes concern the unilateral disclaimer in favor of Amazon, the termination and suspension of merchants’ accounts, the jurisdiction in disputes, and the handling of product information, and many other issues.

– Liability rules:

Amazon has so far been exempt from virtually any liability to merchants.

This disclaimer by Amazon is limited and narrowed in favor of merchants. Amazon will in future be liable, as will, for intent and gross negligence, as well as for breach of essential contractual obligations. This will allow European marketplaces to adapt the rules to European standards for business relations between traders.

– Termination and blocking:

Amazon has an unrestricted right to immediately terminate and immediately block merchant stake’s accounts without giving reasons.

In the case of ordinary terminations, a 30-day period will apply in future. In the case of extraordinary terminations (based on allegations of endangerment and infringement by a retailer) as well as in the case of closures, Amazon now has an obligation to provide information and justification.

– Place of jurisdiction:

Until now, Luxembourg has been the exclusive place of jurisdiction in the European terms and conditions for the marketplace as well as in the European terms and conditions for payment transactions. This arrangement has made it more difficult for smaller traders in particular to seek legal action at all.

The exclusivity of the Luxembourg jurisdiction will now be eliminated for all European marketplaces. In future, domestic courts may have jurisdiction under certain conditions.

– Returns and refunds:

For the customers, everything stays the same. Amazon’s rules on customer returns and refunds remain untouched by a new regulation in terms of customer relations.

Until now, retailers have had to unilaterally bear the costs and other consequences of a refund decision made by Amazon. If they consider the return to be unjustified, they can appeal under the new rules and, if necessary, make a claim for compensation against Amazon.

– Product information and rights of use:

Until now, retailers had to grant Amazon very far-reaching rights to use their own product materials, such as information, descriptions, images, etc. Retailers also had to provide the Amazon marketplace with product material that is as high-quality as the material they use in other distribution channels.

The adapted regulations contain improvements and clarifications with regard to the rights of use in the sense of the dealers. In particular, Amazon’s permitted use is now limited to certain uses. The so-called “parity target” is no longer applicable. In the future, therefore, higher-quality or more specific product information and presentations on other websites will be possible. However, Amazon’s requirements for the quality of the product material remain valid. This change supports the ability of retailers and manufacturers to compete with their own websites to the Amazon marketplace.

– Confidentiality:

Public statements by retailers on the business relationship with Amazon have so far only been permitted with the prior written consent of Amazon.

The relevant clause is largely reduced.

– Transparency:

The Federal Cartel Office has ensured that it will be easier for dealers to identify the applicable regulations in the future. The rules will be easier to find in the future. Changes will be announced with a notice period of 15 days in advance.

– Product reviews and seller ratings:

Many retailers have also challenged Amazon’s practice in valuations. It has been criticized that Amazon’s sales as a retailer (Amazon Retail) would favor sales from marketplace retailers in this regard, especially because third-party product reviews are removed from the platform. Amazon has argued that there is a significant risk of incorrect and manipulative reviews, and that Amazon wants to address the issue in principle. In particular, the “Vine” own evaluation program, which has so far only been accessible to Amazon Retail suppliers, is to be gradually opened up to those marketplace traders who own a trademark registered with Amazon.

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