Asia-Pacific Contest Highlights – Japan

First Parallel Imports Case Resolved Under Undertaking Procedures

This is the first case involving parallel imports closed under the undertaking procedures and the first enforcement action taken by the Japan Fair Trade Commission (“JFTC”) involving a foreign supplier in a case of parallel import. Although these past enforcement actions have targeted domestic distributors, the undertaking procedure introduced in December 2018 can help overcome enforcement difficulties in cases involving a foreign company.

In March 2022, the JFTC announced the termination of the investigation against Wilson and its distributor in Japan after agreeing to commitment plans.

Wilson Sporting Goods (“Wilson”) and its only authorized distributor in Japan, Amer Sports Japan (“Amer”), had been under investigation since 2020 on suspicion of interfering with the transactions of parallel importers. The JFTC discovered that Amer had obtained Willson’s tennis racquets for advanced players from Japanese parallel importers who were selling the racquets at lower than official prices and, using the serial number information from the hologram stickers on racquets, asked Wilson to warn authorized overseas distributors not to sell tennis racquets to Japanese parallel importers. Wilson’s warning to overseas distributors, as requested by Amer, could be considered interference in a competitor’s dealings, which is prohibited as an unfair business practice under Japanese antitrust law.

In response to the notice of recognizance proceedings issued by the JFTC, Amer and Wilson submitted recognizance plans that included ceasing the alleged conduct and not engaging in similar conduct for the next three years, and Wilson also agreed not to impose a passive sales restriction on Japanese companies. parallel importers on foreign distributors. The JFTC approved the engagement plans and decided to close the investigation without sanctions.

For more details, please see the JFTC press release.

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