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Digital pianos, digital keyboards and guitars: anti-competitive practices 50565-6

Competition Markets Authority

September 8
13:03 2020

Case timetable

Date Action
8 September 2020 Non-confidential version of the infringement decision published.
17 July 2020 Infringement decision issued to parties.
July 2020 Receipt and consideration of representations on the statement of objections.
29 June 2020 Statement of objections issued to parties and settlement by GAK announced. Issue of wider musical instruments sector compliance communications concerning resale price maintenance.
Winter 2019/2020 (estimate) Decision on whether to issue a statement of objections.
Autumn 2019 (estimate) Further investigation including information gathering. CMA analysis and review. State of play meetings with parties under investigation.
July 2019 Decision taken to proceed with the investigation. CMA analysis and review of information gathered.
April 2018 to July 2019 Initial investigation: information gathering, including issue of formal or informal information requests to parties.
April 2018 Investigation opened

Non-confidential version of the infringement decision

8 September 2020: The CMA has published a non-confidential version of the decision in this case.

Infringement decision

17 July 2020: The CMA issued a decision finding that that GAK.co.uk Ltd, The Guitar, Amp & Keyboard Centre Ltd and GAK.co.uk (Holdings) Limited (together GAK) and Yamaha Music Europe GmbH (YME) had breached UK and/or EU competition law by engaging in resale price maintenance (RPM).

The CMA imposed a fine of 278,945 on GAK (for which the 3 GAK companies are jointly and severally liable). The fine includes a 20% discount to reflect savings due to the companies admissions and their co-operation with the CMA under a settlement agreement.

Statement of objections

29 June 2020: The CMA issued a statement of objections alleging that both GAK and YME had breached UK and/or EU competition law competition law by engaging in RPM. GAK agreed to pay a maximum fine of 278,945.

Settlement

As part of the CMAs settlement process, GAK received a 20% discount on its financial penalty. Under this procedure, a company admits acting illegally and co-operates, in return for a reduced fine, which helps make the CMAs investigation more efficient.

Under the CMAs leniency programme, YME received full immunity from any financial penalty, conditional on its continuing to meet the requirements of the CMAs leniency policy in the investigation.

The next stage in the process, once YME and GAK have had an opportunity to respond to the statement of objections, will be for the CMA to take a final decision on whether or not there has been an infringement in this case. The CMA currently expects that it will be in a position to take that decision in mid-July 2020.

Follow-up compliance work

To help the musical instruments industry learn the lessons from the CMAs investigations, the CMA has published an open letter to suppliers and retailers in the musical instruments sector and case studies on our Fender and Casio investigations and issued a large number of warning letters. These letters signpost guidance for businesses on resale price maintenance and encourage musical instrument suppliers and retailers to review their business practices to ensure they are complying with competition law. Building on its extensive efforts to monitor and address suspected RPM, the CMA has also launched its own in-house price monitoring tool aimed at deterring companies from entering into agreements restricting online discounting. Find out more in our blog.

The CMA has also published a case study which explains, in the light of this case, the steps that businesses can take to ensure that they avoid engaging in RPM.

Case information

On 17 April 2018, the CMA launched an investigation (50565-6) under Chapter I of the CA98 and Article 101 of the TFEU into suspected breaches of competition law by various parties. The investigations related to alleged anti-competitive agreements and/or concerted practices in relation to musical instruments and equipment.

Further details of the CMAs procedures in Antitrust cases are available in our guidance.

Personal data

The CMA may collect, use and share personal data for its investigations, including investigations under the Competition Act 1998. This includes processing personal data for the purposes of the General Data Protection Regulation and the Data Protection Act 2018.

For more information about how the CMA handles personal information, please see the CMAs Personal Information Charter.

Contacts

Assistant Project Director

Grahame Horgan (020 3738 6573, Grahame.Horgan@cma.gov.uk)

Project Director

Fred Houwen (020 3738 6723, Fred.Houwen@cma.gov.uk)

Senior Responsible Officer

Ann Pope (020 3738 6786, ann.pope@cma.gov.uk)

Published 17 April 2018
Last updated 8 September 2020 +show all updates
  1. Non-confidential version of the infringement decision published.

  2. Details of the penalty imposed added.

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