The European Commission has announced the launch of an investigation into whether ASUS is in breach of EU competition rules. In particular, the European Commission is concerned with whether ASUS has put in place price restrictions on some of their products which restrict online retailers from setting their own prices. Something which the European Commission suggests could have resulted in unfair pricing due to the way in which retailer software “automatically adapts retail prices to those of leading competitors”.
Unfortunately, that is largely the extent to the information that has been provided in the announcement from the European Commission. However, it is worth noting that they are not only looking at ASUS for this particular issue, as Denon & Marantz, Philips, and Pioneer, have all been named as well. In fact, the announcement details that the price restriction issue forms part of a much wider investigation that the European Commission is now undertaking. One which will also focus on companies who are discriminating against buyers on the basis of location, as well as issues which may have come about due to geo-blocking. Although, the pricing restriction aspect is the only aspect of this investigation that the European Commission has specifically stated relates to ASUS.
It is also worth noting that the naming of ASUS in this investigation does not seem to have anything to do with smartphones or other mobile-related devices in particular. While the investigation is focused on 'consumer electronics', the European Commission notes that the investigation will primarily focus on the price restrictions of household appliances, notebooks and hi-fi products. Which again, is unlikely to be categories which all relate to ASUS. Likewise, the announcement is only detailing the start of the investigation and is not publicly or directly leveling any specific charges at any of the companies named, included ASUS. Instead, the announcement details that the European Commission is embarking on “an inquiry to gather market information” with a view to understanding any “barriers” which may be in breach of EU antitrust rules. Something which the European Commission has accused a number of tech companies of in recent times, including Google.