eBay presents 750,000 petition signatures to European Union

September 18, 2009

STRASBOURG, FRANCE - 17 SEPTEMBER. eBay today called on the European Union to amend EU competition law to stop brands from restricting the sale of their products on the internet. Presenting a petition signed by 750,000 European citizens, eBay called for an end to the abuse of \'selective distribution\' agreements that unjustly block the online sale of legitimate products across Europe. Such practices unfairly impact online businesses and entrepreneurs, and often result in consumers unnecessarily paying higher prices for goods.

eBay sellers from the UK, France and Germany visited Strasbourg today to meet with Members of the European Parliament to step up their campaign against unfair trade practices. The eBay petition coincides with the Commission's public consultation on the revision of the European Vertical Restraints Regulation and Guidelines which concludes on 28th September.

As part of this process, eBay has argued for greater clarity and support for cross-border internet sales, increased consumer choice and non-discrimination in the way that online and offline channels are treated for distribution purposes. Some rights owners have opposed eBay\'s position and aim to protect restrictive distribution systems and high prices at the cost of consumer choice.

"eBay was built on a simple idea - that it could empower individuals by building a global marketplace where practically anyone could buy or sell practically anything," said Alex von Schirmeister, European Head of Business Development at eBay.

"Unfortunately, that idea is under threat from certain brand owners and manufacturers who are trying to block and restrict unfairly the sale of legitimate products on the internet. Through this online petition our community of users is calling on policymakers to amend European competition law to stop these unfair trade practices. "

In total, 752,605 eBay users in Europe have signed the petition so far, which was launched in July. Signatories include over 250,000 consumers from the UK, more than 200,000 from Germany and over 100,000 from France. The signatories support eBay\'s position that brands should "not be allowed to impose blanket bans on internet selling, or keep online prices artificially high. Restrictions must only be based on objective, transparent criteria that are of proven benefit to consumers."

The petition also calls for a presumption against manufacturers being "allowed to insist that internet retailers must have an offline retail store before they can sell online, or impose more onerous sales conditions to online sellers."

Mary Honeyball, Member of the European Parliament for London, added: "In these tough economic times European customers and businesses need to be free to buy and sell all products at the most competitive market rates available. The internet provides a way for us to do this, by creating equal access to goods and services across Europe. So I support eBay\'s call to change outdated European competition laws this autumn and enable online retailers to sell all goods no matter whether they originate from Asda, Apple or Armani."

Launching an ad campaign in Germany and the UK to drive further awareness of the campaign, eBay said that its petition would remain open until September 28th and encouraged more European consumers to sign up. The petition can be found at www.ebaycampaigns.com