The Federal Cartel Office told The Local it was checking the terms of business used by Japanese shoe maker Asics, while German giant Adidas could be next for examination.
Disgruntled dealers who found their supply of sports shoes cut after selling them at reduced prices online have been complaining that the firms are trying to control prices and the market, the Financial Times Deutschland newspaper reported on Wednesday.
The manufacturers maintain that these online dealers undercut their manufacturer's suggested retail price and thereby cheapen their image, the paper said. To prevent this, firms are increasingly refusing to deliver their products to these online dealers.
Both Adidas and Asics have said that they have cut off dealers who resell their goods on Internet platforms like Amazon and Ebay. Adidas said that was because its products were not being properly presented online – but one dealer dismissed this as a pretext. "They want to control everything," he told the paper.
The newspaper said the cartel office got wind of the practice after a disgruntled Asics dealer made a complaint he was no longer being allowed to sell the products. Nike is reportedly going to follow suit, telling the paper that Amazon was not an authorised dealer.
Amazon Germany manager Ralf Kleber told the paper that he wanted to negotiate with Adidas.
"Telling the customer where he or she should buy their products is something we can't understand," Kleber told the paper, but could not suggest what kind of compromise might result from talks.
The paper noted that Puma has had its own online shop on Amazon for quite some time.