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Europeans Open Antitrust Probe Of Luxury Watchmakers

Posted  August 18, 2011

The European Commission is investigating whether luxury watch manufacturers have suppressed competition by refusing to provide spare parts to independent repairers.

While the Commission has not identified any specific companies, the Swatch Group, parent company of such brands as Omega and Breguet, has identified itself as one of the subjects.  Swatch has said it is confident regarding the outcome of the inquiry.

The probe comes as the result of a complaint filed by the Confederation of Watch and Clock Repairers’ Associations (“CEAHR”) in 2002.  The EU Regulatory Commission initially rejected the complaint because of insufficient community interest, but a 2010 ruling from the General Court in Luxembourg overturned this decision.

CEAHR claims that watch manufacturers’ refusal to provide spare parts to independent watchmakers is harming competition by driving these artisans out of business.  According to CEAHR, consumers are being harmed because manufacturers often refuse to accommodate unique customer requests and carry out repairs without the input of the customer.  CEAHR says that such a restraint on competition enables manufacturers to charge artificially high prices.

Tagged in: Antitrust Enforcement, International Competition Issues,