Wragge Lawrence Graham & Co

UK 200 2013 position: 25

Ensure your distribution agreement runs like clockwork — beware of banning exports to Switzerland

Manufacturers and suppliers experienced in entering into EU distribution agreements will be aware that there are limits upon the restrictions that they may lawfully place upon on their resellers — including in respect of territorial restrictions. But what about the impact of such distribution agreements on Switzerland given that Switzerland is not in the European Union (EU) or the European Economic Area (EEA)?

A swathe of recent decisions and investigations by the Swiss competition authority in relation to parallel import restrictions — for example Nikon in respect of cameras, certain beer manufacturers and piano manufacturer Steinway & Sons — highlight that the Swiss competition authority will not take lightly the restriction of trade into Switzerland and resulting higher prices for consumers.

Manufacturers should therefore be careful not to carve Switzerland out of EEA/EU distribution arrangements, thereby restricting parallel trade into Switzerland…

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