News

Gregor Kleinknecht’s article on the new EU Geoblocking Regulation in Discover Germany

  • January 04, 2019
  • By Gregor Kleinknecht, Partner

Unblocking Online Shopping

If, like a growing number of us, you do much of your shopping online these days, your life just got even easier, more varied and -quite possibly- cheaper: on 3 December, the new EU Geoblocking Regulation entered into force.  What on earth is geoblocking, you may well ask?  Well, I find that, if I go to the .de website of a well-known online retail empire whose name starts with the letter “A”, not only do I find different products than are available on the retailer’s .co.uk website, I also find that the same products often cost less on the German website than in the UK after allowing for currency conversion.  My log-in credentials work in the same way on both platforms and I still get free delivery.  Perfect.  However, some other online retailers have traditionally not liked the idea of the customer being king, and shopping around between different country websites of the same retail business, and made sure that you were automatically redirected to the website appropriate to the location from which you accessed the internet (recognisable by the IP address).  The effect (if not the objective) of restricting your access to the retailer’s other websites based on your geographical location was that you had less choice and could be charged higher prices.  Well, that’s geoblocking.  Not helpful.

One of the EU’s grand projets is the creation of a digital single market across all member states and geoblocking, quite literally, stands in the way of that; it restricts online shopping and cross-border sales of goods and services both to consumers and to business end users.  The Regulation therefore now prohibits unjustified restrictions on accessing websites across borders, denying the possibility to complete an order, purchase goods or to download content when accessing a website from abroad, denying shipment or delivery across borders, or providing different prices and conditions depending on the customer’s nationality, country of residence or location.  The Regulation applies regardless of whether the provider is established in another EU member state or in a third country (typically, the United States).  There is also a provision against discrimination in relation to means of payment.  The Regulation is part of a wider legislative package that also aims to facilitate cross-border delivery of parcels and the application of VAT rules, as well as to strengthen consumer rights.

There may still be valid reasons for traders not wishing to sell or deliver across borders, for example, tax implications or different legal requirements for providing goods or services in another country, provided that a denial of access can be justified objectively.  There are (for now at least) some caveats:  the prohibition on applying different general conditions of access for reasons related to a customer’s nationality or residence do not apply to non-audio-visual copyright protected content services (such as e-books, on-line music, software and videogames).  Audio-visual services are outside of the scope of the Regulation altogether, as are some other services such as financial, transport and health services.

So, all in all, a step forward for e-commerce and for consumers in Europe.  Well done EU, thank you and keep up the good work.

This article was originally published in Discover Germany’s January Issue and can be accessed here, on page 69.

Related News

Jul 22, 2021
Gregor Kleinknecht and Constance Tait examine the impact on trademark litigation and provide 10 tips on navigating the post-Brexit era in Managing IP
Jul 16, 2021
Gregor Kleinknecht and Anastassia Dimmek examine the growing threat of zombie firms in Lawyer Monthly
Jul 07, 2021
Richard Baxter and Constance Tait examine a report suggesting that firms with targeted support for ethnic minority workers see benefits
Jun 28, 2021
Richard Baxter discusses UK-EU Data Protection and how adequacy decisions avoid imminent disruption to data flows
Jun 23, 2021
Richard Baxter and Constance Tait examine the recent Burnell v Trans-Tag Ltd case in the High Court
Jun 22, 2021
Anastassia Dimmek discussed the key challenges of protecting clients’ healthy businesses from zombie firms in a webinar hosted by Advoselect
Jun 18, 2021
Richard Baxter and Constance Tait discuss the looming annual returns deadline for employee share schemes
May 18, 2021
Hunters hosted the Withdrawal and The Trade Marks Act 1994 webinar
Mar 17, 2021
Stephen Morrall comments on Uber drivers entitled to minimum wage, holiday pay and pension following the Supreme Court decision in The Sunday Times Driving, The Times and the Daily Mail
Feb 19, 2021
Stephen Morrall comments on Uber losing a landmark Supreme Court battle in the Evening Standard and the Financial Times

© Hunters Law LLP 2021 | Privacy NoticeLegal & Regulatory | Cookies Policy | Complaints Procedure.

Hunters Law LLP is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (number 657218)