Golf equipment manufacturer Ping has been clubbed with a £1.45m fine from the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), for preventing two UK retailers from selling its golf clubs on their website.
Although this might initially sound like Ping was shooting itself in the foot, the business reasoned that it was promoting in-store custom fitting.
But this claim was hit into the long grass by the CMA which found that, although Ping was pursuing a genuine commercial aim, it could have achieved this through less restrictive means.
“The internet is an increasingly important distribution channel and retailers’ ability to sell online, and reach as wide a customer base as possible, should not be unduly restricted,” said Ann Pope, senior director for antitrust enforcement at the CMA.
The authority's judgement added that Ping was allowed to require a retailer to meet certain conditions before selling its products online, but it must make sure these are consistent with competition law.
The fine would likely have been higher had the authority concluded that Ping was not acting to further a genuine commercial aim.
A business can be fined up to 10 per cent of its annual worldwide group turnover for competition law infringement, with the final amount depending on factors such as the seriousness of the offence and the turnover of the relevant market.