Across Platform Parity Agreement
The recent shutdown in Germany certainly provides good news for hotel booking platforms, other online marketplaces and price comparison sites that want to use “narrow” price parity clauses. But the debate is ongoing across the EU and the position is therefore far from being clarified. For the purposes of the price parity analysis, MMT relies exclusively on the abovementioned case-law and considers that the overall price parity agreement concluded between MMT and Treebo is contrary to competition, liable to jeopardise both new entrants and consumers. These issues have been promoted by the ICC with the utmost solemnity. It is apparent from the ICC Order ordering the Director General to conduct further investigations into the activities of MMT and OYO in the exercise of their powers, in order to order further investigations on the basis of an appearance under Section 26 of the Act. The controversy over its validity is particularly crucial from the Indian perspective, especially after the release of the E-Commerce Report 2020 (“Report”), in which the Competition Commission of India (“ICC”) vaguely drew attention to the competition crisis due to price parity agreements, while crowding out its categorical invalidity. Concerns are strongly reinforced in light of the increase in cases, particularly in the online hotel booking sectors, in which the ICC must intervene and carry out the analysis of abuse of dominant position. [xi] In this context, this article attempts to analyse the validity of price parity agreements and their impact on competition. This development has a significant impact on digital platforms, as it paves the way for them to use “narrow” price parity clauses to tackle parasitism. The story is not over, however, as there are still divergent national precedents.
Account should also be taken of the ongoing revision by the EC of the Vertical Block Exemption Regulation and the accompanying Guidelines. In Britain, in 2014, the Competition and Markets Authority accepted binding commitments from Booking.com and Expedia, which allowed for “narrow” clauses in agreements with International Hotels Group. The decision was then set aside on appeal on procedural grounds and referred back to the CMA. . . .