Geo-blocking regulation – break-through and important changes in the e-commerce of the EU!

May we kindly draw your attention to the fact that the Regulation (EU) 2018/302 of the European Parliament and Council coming into force on 3 December 2018 will introduce considerable changes in the respect of the online purchases within the EU. The merchants concerned must, by this deadline, harmonise their online commercial system (web stores and/or terms of sales and payment) with the Regulation prohibiting the “territorial restrictions on contents”.

On the basis of the experiences gained so far in the Union a practical problem was caused by the commercial practice, in the course of which the merchants are applying restrictions against purchasers from other member states in connection with the border-cross deals in the respect of access to their goods and services (this practice is known under the name “territorial restriction on contents”).

Purpose of the Regulation shall be the action against unreasonable territory-based content restriction in the course of deals across borders, directed to the sale of goods and to the rendering of services.

After the aforesaid date a merchant may not prohibit or restrict legally the access of purchaser to the online surface of the merchant for any reason related to the citizenship or dwelling place of the purchaser (in the practice: foreign IP address).

Of course, the Regulation may not oblige the merchants to undertake the supply of goods in each member state, but due to the aforesaid reason a merchant may not apply diverting conditions of access, if the purchaser agrees to take over the goods at a site where the merchant secures the delivery of goods pursuant of his general conditions of access. In such case the takeover of the goods or the organisation of such takeover shall be the obligation of the purchaser.

It is very important to highlight that this prohibition covers also the application of diverting pricing and diverting terms of payment! However, this prohibition does not exclude that the merchant offers net sales prices without any differentiation as per member states or for a definite group of purchasers (e.g. loyal purchasers).

The aforementioned measures protecting the purchasers are not restricted onto consumers, they shall cover also the business associations qualifying as end buyers.

In our opinion the significant innovations of the Regulation above pose the undertakings operating in the field of online commerce in front of challenges, who must take into consideration the recent changes aiming at the protection of consumers and data protection (GDPR).

If it is necessary to transform your commercial system with regard to the aforesaid problems, our team of lawyers experienced in this field, being in possession of detailed information and solutions is at your kind disposal! (Ékes Law Office)