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11 January 2018

Bulgaria: Commission fines Laptop.BG for video blog content

The Commission for the Protection of Competition fined Laptop.BG Lev47,265 (approximately €24,160) for unfair practices in the form of contradicting genuine practices. The penalty represents 0.5% of the net income of Laptop.BG sales.

An investigation was opened at the request of Golden Green Stone Group EOOD, the owner of online shopping brand eVarna. During the investigation, it was established that two videos were uploaded to the YouTube streaming channel Noobclever Gaming, maintained by the blogger Dimitar Kozhuharov. The videos contained positive statements about Laptop.BG products and negative statements about Golden Green Stone products. Both videos were uploaded in 2017.

During the investigation, the commission failed to establish an advertising relationship between Laptop.BG and the blogger. However, it was established that Laptop.BG had not ordered the videos. The only relationship between Laptop.BG and the blogger was that Laptop.BG had used the blogger's streaming channel to promote its products.

The video, for which Laptop.BG was fined, compared eVarna parameters and computers (operated by Golden Green Stone) with those offered by other online platforms. At the end the video, the blogger demonstrated how a similar computer would look if its parts were purchased via Laptop BG's online shop.

According to Golden Green Stone, the blogger performed prohibited comparative advertising in favour of Laptop.BG, thereby damaging eVarna's reputation and consciously redirecting consumers to Laptop BG's online platforms.

Laptop.BG stated that as well as having no advertising relationship with the blogger, it also had no control over the content of the blogger's videos.

The commission established that there was no prohibited comparative advertising. However, it found a contradiction with Laptop.BG's genuine practices, since Laptop.BG knew about the videos but did nothing to prevent the negative portrayal of Golden Green Stone. The commission considered that Laptop.BG should have clearly distinguished its behaviour from the videos and blogger. The lack of such active behaviour established a contradiction with genuine practices, which constituted a violation of the Competition Protection Act.

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