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OLG Frankfurt on discount campaigns and fixed book prices on eBay

eBay itself is not subject to the requirements of the Book Price Fixing Act. Its one-off advent discount campaign, in which, among other things, the last purchasers had to pay only 90% of the purchase price when buying books, while eBay paid 10% to the bookseller, also did not lead to a violation of the BuchPrG by the booksellers.

According to the German Book Price Maintenance Act, booksellers may only sell books to end users in Germany on a commercial or business basis at the retail prices set by the publishers (= bound).

eBay offered their customers a 10% Advent discount for a few hours in December 2019. This was granted on the sale of books, in addition to many other products such as toys, watches, DVDs. Buyers who redeemed the Advent discount when purchasing books entered into a purchase agreement with the booksellers for the full price. After entering the coupon code, they paid only 90% of the purchase price, and the defendant paid the remaining 10% to the sellers.

The plaintiff therefore sued eBay for injunctive relief for violation of the fixed book price. However, the Wiesbaden Regional Court had dismissed the claim. The appeal against this decision was also unsuccessful before the Frankfurt am Main Higher Regional Court. The OLG confirmed that the plaintiff was not entitled to injunctive relief against the defendant under any circumstances. The defendant is not directly subject to the provisions of the BuchPrG, since it does not itself sell books commercially to end users. The sales contracts would be concluded directly between the booksellers present on their platform and the buyers. Since the booksellers did not violate the BuchPrG, the defendants could not be considered indirect perpetrators. Booksellers received the full bound retail price. Without success, the plaintiff argues that the commission to be paid by the booksellers to the defendant is related to the discount under price fixing law. On the contrary, the commission is generally due and serves to compensate for general brokerage services. The discount campaign was independent of this; the booksellers were also not involved in the campaign.

The discount campaign also does not lead to a circumvention of the BuchPrG, nor is a corresponding application of the regulations to be made. Insofar as the discount campaign had interfered with price competition on a one-off basis and for only a few hours, it could not be assumed that small and medium-sized suppliers posed a serious threat to the diversity of booksellers protected by the law.


Marian Härtel

Marian Härtel

Marian Härtel is a lawyer and entrepreneur specializing in copyright law, competition law and IT/IP law, with a focus on games, esports, media and blockchain.

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