In this first post-Coty decision, the Authority ruled on the lawfulness of a selective distribution network for Stihl products relating to the mechanized farming sector (chainsaws, brush cutters, hedge cutters).
It first considered that use of selective distribution was legitimate, acknowledging that these products can have a certain dangerous nature and technicality. The selection of distributors would thus ensure the transmission of useful information for the proper use of the machinery and user safety.
However, it sanctioned Stihl for imposing a "hand over" of the products to online buyers. Stihl required its distributors to propose either to pick up the products in store, or delivery at the purchaser's home but in person by the distributor, accordingly prohibiting in practice distance selling of products by the distributor, which went beyond what was necessary to protect consumer health. Therefore, Stihl was sanctioned €7 million for this restriction by object ruled particularly harmful.
On the other hand, the Authority ruled valid the clause prohibiting distributors from selling Stihl products on market places, in line with the Coty decision.
Moreover, it indicated that the Coty decision could be extended to types of products other than luxury products, analysis which was incidentally made by the European Commission in April 2018.
Thus, it made an extensive application thereof since the products concerned did not fall under the luxury sector but that of the mechanized farming sector. Therefore, this restriction was deemed legitimate to preserve consumer safety and guarantee the brand image and quality of the products concerned.
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