Spanish court suspends $209 million Apple, Amazon fines pending appeal

FILE PHOTO: The Apple logo is seen hanging at the entrance to the Apple store on 5th Avenue in Manhattan

MADRID (Reuters) -Spain's high court has suspended 194 million euros ($209 million) in fines imposed on Amazon and Apple by the local antitrust watchdog in July, pending an appeal by the tech giants, an Amazon spokesperson said on Thursday.

CNMC, as the watchdog is known, fined Amazon and Apple for colluding to prevent dealers other than Amazon from selling Apple wares on Amazon's websites in Spain.

Apple was fined 143.6 million euros and Amazon 50.5 million euros and both companies at the time said they would appeal.

The court decision to suspend the payment is part of the appeal process, the Amazon spokesperson said.

Amazon said in July that as a result of the deal with Apple, the number of discounts on Apple devices on Amazon's websites increased, while Apple said the deal was intended to protect customers from fake devices.

The suspension of the fine does not anticipate the court will rule in favour or against the tech giants.

An Apple spokesperson declined to comment on Thursday.

CNMC said a contract signed by the two companies in October 2018 granting Amazon the status of authorised Apple dealer on its websites in Spain included anti-competitive clauses that prevented more than 90% of the existing retailers from selling Apple wares on Amazon's market place.

Following these contracts, Amazon also reduced the capacity of retailers in the European Union based outside Spain to access Spanish customers, and restricted the advertising Apple's competitors were allowed to place on its website when users searched for Apple products, the regulator said.

A similar case was opened in Italy against the two companies but was eventually dropped.

($1 = 0.9275 euros)

(Reporting by Inti Landauro; Editing by Sonali Paul, Kirsten Donovan)