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

On 3 December 2018, the new Regulation (EU) 2018/302 of the European Parliament and Council (“Regulation“) comes into force and introduces considerable changes in online purchases within the EU. By this deadline, the merchants shall harmonise their online commercial systems (web stores and/or terms of sales and payment) with the Regulation prohibiting the “territorial restrictions on contents”. 

“Geo-blocking“ or “territorial restriction on contents“ is a technology restricting access to internet content based on user´s geographical location. In the European Union, the technology has been spread by merchants, who apply for restrictions against purchasers from other member states so they forbid them from accessing their goods and services. 

In response to the practice, the European Union has recently issued the Regulation directing the sale of goods and rendering of services. Since 3 December 2018, a merchant shall not legally prohibit or restrict the access of purchaser to the online content of the merchant for any reason based or related to the citizenship or dwelling place of the purchaser (in the practice: foreign IP address). 

Of course, the Regulation does not aim to oblige the merchants to supply goods to each member state, but forbids the merchant from applying divergent conditions of access, if the purchaser agrees to take over the goods at a site where the merchant secures the delivery of goods pursuant to 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 divergent pricing 
and terms of payment. However, this prohibition does not exclude the situations in which 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. 

The significant innovations of the Regulation above also pose the merchants operating in the field of online commerce in front of challenges of taking into consideration the recent changes aiming to increase protection of consumers and data protection (GDPR). 

If it is necessary to transform your commercial system in regard to the aforesaid problems, our team of lawyers experienced in this field, who dispose of detailed information and solutions, is at your kind disposal!  

Ékes Law Office

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