Japan: Asia Pacific Competition Highlights | Q1 2022

In brief

The competition authority announced in March the closure of the investigation after accepting commitment plans from Wilson and its distributor in Japan. This was the first enforcement action taken by the JFTC against a foreign supplier in a parallel import case.

This update was published as part of our quarterly newsletter, Asia Pacific Competition Highlights. Click here to access the full report, which covers the most notable antitrust developments across nine Asia Pacific jurisdictions.


Contents

First parallel imports case resolved under commitment procedures

This is the first case involving parallel imports closed under the Commitment Procedures and the first enforcement action taken by the Japan Fair Trade Commission (JFTC) involving a foreign supplier in a parallel import case. While such past enforcement has targeted domestic distributors, the Commitment Procedure introduced in December 2018 may help overcome the enforcement challenges in cases involving a foreign company.

In March 2022, The JFTC announced the closure of the investigation against Wilson and its distributor in Japan after accepting commitment plans.

Wilson Sporting Goods ("Wilson") and its sole authorized distributor in Japan, Amer Sports Japan ("Amer"), have been investigated since 2020 on suspicion of interfering with parallel importers' transactions. The JFTC found that Amer got Willson's tennis rackets for advanced players from Japanese parallel importers who sold the rackets at cheaper prices than official prices and, by using serial number information from holograms stickers on the rackets, requested Wilson to warn overseas authorized distributors not to sell tennis rackets to Japanese parallel importers. Wilson's warning to overseas distributors as requested by Amer might be deemed as interference with a competitor's transactions, which is prohibited as unfair trade practice under Japanese antitrust law.

In response to the notice of the Commitment Procedures issued by the JFTC, Amer and Wilson submitted commitment plans that included ceasing the alleged conduct and not performing similar conduct for the next three years, and Wilson also agreed not to impose restrictions on passive sales to Japanese parallel importers on overseas distributors. The JFTC approved the commitment plans and decided to close the investigation with no sanctions.

For more detail, please refer to the JFTC's press release.

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