Petr Rafaj, the Chairman of the Office for the Protection of Competition, rejected, by his final decision, the appeal brought by the company Booking.com B.V. ("Booking.com") and confirmed the fine amounting to CZK 8,336,000 imposed on the company for entering into prohibited vertical agreements with a number of its providers.
For the period from 1 May 2009 to 30 June 2015, Booking.com concluded a number of prohibited vertical agreements with providers of short-term accommodation services within the territory of the Czech Republic. According to the finding, this conduct led to the distortion of competition in the market for both the mediation of online reservation of short-term accommodation and the provision of short-term accommodation services in the Czech Republic. At the same time, trade between Member States of the European Union in similar markets was also potentially affected by the conduct of Booking.com. The decision was based inter alia on an extensive investigation, during which the Office addressed hundreds of accommodation facilities.
The anticompetitive conduct in question consisted in Booking.com obliging its contractual partners to comply with the so-called broad price and availability parity clauses (i.e. MFN clauses). This required Booking.com to be granted the same or better conditions regarding the regarding the price of accommodation and the amount of available rooms available for booking than those published on the web sites of the accommodation facility or at other on-line of off-line distribution channel of a contractual accommodation facility.
By its conduct, it was found that Booking.com had prevented and distorted competition in the market, which deprived consumers of the ability to obtain better prices and conditions for short term accommodation options. Please find the relevant press release here.