I’ve just received another e-mail with further details about Valve, Steam and pricing in European Union in general. Go ahead and read it.
As I mentioned in my previous e-mail, EU competition law generally does not restrict the freedom of companies to unilaterally decide whether and what to sell in which country. There is no EU competition law rule that obliges private companies such as Valve Software to market the same range of products or services in all EU Member States.
However, an agreement between any supplier of Valve’s products with Valve not to ship to certain Member State may violate competition rules. With regard to vendors selling their products at different prices, I would note that varying prices in different geographical areas may not, per se constitute a competition problem. Indeed different prices are the rule rather than the exception as the costs of selling, supporting, packaging and delivering will most likely differ from territory to territory. In addition, other factors such as labour costs and local taxation will probably determine the final price in any geographical location.
Furthermore, the application of Article 102 TFEU is predicated upon an undertaking being dominant in a particular market and in this respect it requires the definition of a relevant market and proofthat Valve would be dominant in that market.
The practice of service providers (which includes online retailers) discriminating on the grounds of nationality or of country of residence is dealt with specifically by Article 20, paragraph 2 of Directive 123/2006/EC (the “Services Directive”, see: http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/services/services-dir/index_en.htm).
In this regard, discrimination by service providers on the grounds of the nationality or of the place of residence of the service recipients, is specifically forbidden by Article 20(2) of the Services Directive. However, the Directive mentions that differences in the conditions of access will be allowed “…when those differences are directly justified by objective criteria”.
Member States were required to transpose the provisions of this Directive into their own national law by 28 December 2009 and it is therefore within the remit of each national authority to apply the Directive.
Head of Unit
DG Competition – Unit C3
Antitrust – IT, Internet and Consumer electronics
office: MADO 27/069
What are you thoughts on this guys? What do we do next?