19 November 2016

Don’t mislead the competition

poshtenska-kutia-za-mrysni-prikazkiStore.bg is one of Bulgaria’s leading online retailers for books, music, video content and toys.

After the publication the book on the left, Store.bg started distributing it on their website, claiming that would be the only venue where buyers could find it. Not to the pleasure and amusement of their competitors from Ozone.bg, who also distributed above book, but without claiming any exclusivity whatsoever.

So, Ozone.bg petitioned Bulgaria’s Competition Protection Commission (CPC) and claimed that the respondent Store.bg’s trade practice were (1) false statements and (2) represented misleading advertisement, both of which created a confusion on the relevant part of the public. Therefore, claimed petitioner, respondent were liable on the grounds of article 31 and 32 of the Competition Protection Act.

The CPC delivered a ruling (.pdf in Bulgarian) where it disagreed with the claim re false statements as those could have only been relevant had the respondent claimed certain or specific properties to the book in question. As this was not the case, the Commission dismissed that claim.

The CPC, however, agreed with the accusation re misleading advertisement, holding that it was a misrepresentation of facts that was directed at the consumers and was also capable of influencing them to choose respondent’s offering over that of the other competitors in the marketplace.

Therefore, the CPC fined Store.bg with 38 350 BGN, representing 1% of respondent’s overall turnover for the preceding year 2015.

The ruling may be appealed before Bulgaria’s Supreme Administrative Court.