Rolex has been fined $100m by France’s Competition Authority for prohibiting the sale of its best Rolex super clone watches online.
The Swiss company has long claimed that restrictions on its authorized retailers are necessary to prevent counterfeiting and parallel trade in its UK AAA Rolex replica watches.
But the Autorite de la Concurrence, France’s antitrust agency, ruled that it restricted competition.
It said the violations were “serious, as they amount to closing a marketing channel, to the detriment of consumers and retailers, when the online distribution of luxury products, including cheap super clone Rolex watches, has been booming over the past 15 years”.
The Autorite said in a press release that it rejected Rolex France’s argument that the ban on online selling was justified by the need to combat counterfeiting and parallel trade.
“Finding in this respect that luxury Rolex fake watches‘ main competitors, who face the same risks, authorise the online selling of their products under certain conditions, it considered that these objectives can be achieved by means that are less restrictive of competition,” it said.
The â‚¬91,600,000 fine ($100m) has been imposed jointly on Rolex France, Rolex Holding SA, the Hans Wilsdorf Foundation and Rolex SA.
Rolex France must send a summary of the decision to all its authorised retailers, post it online, and publish it in the print and digital editions of Le Figaro and in Montres Magazine.
Swiss made Rolex copy watches declined to comment but can appeal to the Paris Court of Appeal.