Commission fines Nintendo for anti-trust violations

Out-Law News | 30 Oct 2002 | 12:00 am |

The European Commission has imposed a total fine of €167.8 million on Japanese games company Nintendo and seven of its official distributors in Europe for "colluding to maintain" artificially high price differences in the EU between 1991 and 1998. Nintendo itself has been fined €149 million.

The Commission found that Nintendo and its distributors colluded to prevent exports to high-priced countries from low-priced countries and that, under the leadership of Nintendo, "the companies intensively collaborated to find the source of any parallel trade", in breach of EU antitrust law.

Restrictions of parallel trade represent a very serious infringement of the EU treaty, which specifically prohibits agreements and practices that may affect trade between Member States and "have as their object or effect the prevention, restriction or distortion of competition within the common market".

The Commission further noted that John Menzies, Nintendo's distributor at the time for the UK, was "boycotted by Nintendo to force it to collaborate better with the infringement", and concluded that "families in continental Europe had to put up with high prices", as a result of the company's illicit behaviour.

The Commission said in a statement that the fine imposed on Nintendo reflects the seriousness on the infringement, the harm caused to end consumers and the size of the market concerned.