Judgment in Case C-230/16 Coty v Akzente

Coty Germany sells luxury cosmetic goods in Germany. In order to preserve their luxury image, it markets certain of its brands via a selective distribution network, that is to say, through authorised distributors. The sales locations of those authorised distributors must comply with a number of requirements relating to their environment, décor and furnishing. Furthermore, authorised distributors are allowed to sell the goods in question online, provided that they use their own electronic shop window or non-authorised third-party platforms, at the condition that the use of such platforms is not discernible to the consumer. By contrast, they are expressly prohibited from selling the goods online via third-party platforms which operate in a discernible manner towards consumers.

By its judgment of December 6, 2017 the Court, referring to its settled case-law :

1) states first of all that a selective distribution system for luxury goods, designed primarily to preserve the luxury image of those goods, does not breach the prohibition of agreements, decisions and concerted practices laid down in EU law,

2) provided that the following conditions are met:

(i) resellers are chosen on the basis of objective criteria of a qualitative nature, laid down uniformly for all potential resellers and not applied in a discriminatory fashion;
(ii) the criteria laid down must not go beyond what is necessary.

Next, the Court finds that the prohibition of agreements, decisions and concerted practices, laid down in EU law:

1) does not preclude a contractual clause prohibiting authorised distributors of a selective
distribution network of luxury goods designed, primarily, to preserve the luxury image of those goods from using, in a discernible manner, third-party platforms for internet sales of the goods in question.

2) provided that the following conditions are met:

(i) that clause has the objective of preserving the luxury image of
the goods in question;
(ii) it is laid down uniformly and not applied in a discriminatory fashion
(ii) it is proportionate in the light of the objective pursued.

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