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More bad news: Nikon Switzerland fined $13.25 million for restricting parallel imports

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Since March of 2010 the Swiss subsidiary of Nikon Corp. has been investigated for "preventing other companies from importing some of its photography products". The verdict is now out and Nikon was fined SFr12.5 million ($13.25 million) for "restricting parallel imports":

In a statement on Thursday, Comco said Nikon had illegally closed off the Swiss market by inserting clauses into foreign distribution contracts restricting exports to Switzerland. Inversely, the company inserted similar clauses into its Swiss distribution contracts to restrict supply abroad.

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  • Anand

    First…

    And I guess we will all pay for this with higher pricing! Yey! Thanx Swiss!

    • http://dundermifflin.com dwight shrute

      The money could have gone towards developing new bodies and lenses. Or even IC steppers and scanners.

      • carl

        Bad news for Nikon – GOOD news for it’s customers.
        Competition is GOOD.

        • Andrej

          That’s right, competition is the good thing. Corruption is the bad thing. But here in Europe, we are still living in the middle age.

          • Not Surprised

            This is EXCELLENT NEWS — not bad news at all.

            Sorry, but if Nikon wants to sell regional warranties — it can do so — as for products, they should be able to be gotten on the free market.

            Thank you Switzerland for VALIDATING what everyone here believes is right and proper for North America as well. Western cultures are very similar. This might be okay in Asia, dunno. But not acceptable here.

            I hope they get sued everywhere for this.

            Because I -love- Nikon, I want it to do the right thing without price fixing. Manufacture — distribute — take your profit — and let the market determine the rest. Stop trying to control our wallets when its disassociated with the free market!

    • Jonas

      So companies shouldn’t be fined just because their costumers pay for that???

      • Paul

        I think the posts you replied to were directing their frustration at Nikon Switzerland, not at any unjustness of the fines themselves…

        • A

          Read the post again

          • Anand

            The above two are correct. :) Sorry if you missed the sarcasm part of it! :P

    • Kurgan

      Anand, you already * have* been paying higher prices! Nikon prevented competition and thus kept prices artificially high.

    • Martin

      Actually it will keep prices lower. Nikon can only charge what the market will pay, and so they have been trying to rig the market. Now that has stopped. As to who pays the charge, the same principle applies – Nikon might like to divvy up the fine between its customers, but again it is the market which determines the price, not Nikon.

  • http://nikonrumors.com/ [NR] admin
    • http://nikonrumors.com/ [NR] admin

      they actually searched Nikon’s headquarter:

      “The Competition Commission had initiated an investigation on March 24, 2010 termination. A search was conducted at the headquarters of the subsidiary of the Japanese manufacturer of devices and photographic equipment in Egg (ZH).”

      • jodjac

        Wonder if their search turned up any D800′s! Can someone call and see?

        • enesunkie

          I did. All they could find were Coolpixes.

    • Anand

      I really wonder though…this can’t be related to DSLRs…I mean after all…who the hell competes with Nikon besides Canon. And Nikon certainly can’t apply pressure against Canon since Canon’s has bigger guns (pun intended).

      Other DSLR manufacturers…umm..pls, no competition!

      So this has to be related to their Coolpixes. And who again buys the crappixes??

      • zoetmb

        Parallel imports relates to the same models being imported not through the local subsidiary, in other words “Grey market”. This is illegal in some countries and legal in others.

        In the U.S., for reasons I’ve never understood, B&H, for example, does offer both U.S. and grey market versions of Nikon lenses, but they never sell grey market Nikon bodies.

        Parallel imports are a problem for Nikon because they are a decentralized company, so each local division competes with the others when imports are considered. This may have worked well before the web, but it no longer works and Nikon needs to change it. The problem for the local organization is that they’re paying for the marketing, but the foreign subsidiary gets the sale.

        And Nikon does extremely well selling Coolpixes, no matter what we might think of them. In 2010, they sold 11.5 million Coolpixes, 11% more than 2009, in spite of the prevalence of decent cameras on Smartphones. That gave them a 11.2% market share among Japanese camera producers, which is pretty good considering how many competitors there are.

    • Anand

      For the record Admin…the chick on the third link is HOT. :) Someone has to say it you know!

  • broxibear

    I always seem to be posting bad news for Nikon, granted it’s been a bad year for them but here’s something good. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l1hcioB11wM
    It’s video of a yearly event in Sendai called ” Sendai Pageant of Starlight”. This year the theme is about hope for the future, and a thank you to all those that helped after the earthquake.
    (On a side note the video was shot on a GH2, Panasonic 20mm f1.7 and the Nikon 85mm f1.8 AFD)

  • bp

    Nikon is fined?

    Switching to Canon.

    • Tiger1050Rider

      In Other News, the Swiss Trade Officials fresh from their successful case against Nikon habe now turned their attention to Sony, Canon and Hassleblad.
      An unnamed official was quoated as saying ‘we have pretty well all the Camera makers in our headlights. We want an open and fair market.”

      {All made up btw}

      • Jim W

        Soo.. they’re switching to Canon? :)

        • jodjac

          That’s pretty funny.

      • Robin

        This Swiss are willy thief’s, they invite & thrive on all other thief’s of the world to stash away their unlawfully money’s in Swiss banks with unnamed accounts. This buggers have never worked for a honest paycheck, and now this insidious way of making money from successful foreign companies like Nikon, Sony, Canon, etc.

        Extortionists b@$turd$ this Swiss.

        • jacob

          Evidently the only use you can make of your head is to keep the ears separated.

          • Robon

            Evidently truth about one’s hypocrite parasitic nature hurts even the most obscene blood suckers. Wake up! It’s a free market; and last I checked Nikon is not a charity. A penny economy like swiss cannot dictate who does and who does not do business in their puny landlocked village. Nikon should close down its operations in Swiss, I bet most other targeted companies would follow suit. With Europe in the dire state it is in, many bigger European economies will be glad to do business as usual with Nikon.

            • jacob

              You are just ignorant and arrogant, two aspects commonly found together.
              You are ignorant about Switzerland, its economy, the principles of law and the laws of the market. Your saying “A penny economy like swiss cannot dictate who does and who does not do business in their puny landlocked village” just confirms my theory about your need for a head. Not much more needs to be said.

            • PHB

              Nikon broke the law by rigging the market. That is a crime under Swiss law.

              It is also a crime under US law, albeit one that a corrupt faction on the Supreme Court has recently decided to prevent enforcement of.

              In the US case the real culprits are the big box stores who pressure manufacturers into the illegal price maintenance schemes.

              The sooner we get rid of the bricks and mortar stores the better.

            • Spooky

              You talk about the same like everybody else? Seems to me that you don’t understand at all what happened there….. ??? You bash Switzerland for actually giving Nikon a fine because they tried to prevent what you ask for and you point the pointy stick on Switzerland saying it’s their fault. 1+1=3?

          • Robin

            Ohhhh! all that oxygen starved thin air is taking its toll, isn’t it. Are we once again hallucinating about Swiss being a economic superpower?

            • Jacob

              It’s “Switzerland” not “Swiss”, you bozo.

        • Cass Roads

          A little lighthearted nationality jabbing is acceptable, but I really can’t take seriously anyone who tries to portray a whole country the way you do Robin (or is it Robon?). Ignorance and generalization rarely make good paints.
          Maybe you’re trolling for Swiss, but you seem to have caught a Canadian as well. If so, congratulations on successfully creating a “belligerent, ignorant loudmouth” caricature. If not … sorry ’bout ya.

          • Robin

            I have lived besides this “Swiss” for a long time, we know their duplicitousness since WW2. You Americans (US & Canadians) have no clue about this “benign” tumor we have in Europe.

            By the way your caricature generalization is often used in Europe for your big dominating brother south of your border.

      • Jim

        Are they leaving Olympus out? – for fear of retaliation

  • derWalter

    GOOD NEWS that they got fined!!!

    hate them for doing such things with my money!!

    • spam

      +10

  • http://ronscubadiver.wordpress.com Ron Scubadiver

    It’s too bad that Nikon can legally prevent dealers in the US from discounting its products. That sort of behavior is routine here and practiced by famous companies like Oakley, Tag, and Rolex, to name a few.

    • JorPet

      Ah, the irony and hypocrisy of it all. Rolex sued Costco and won here in the US because Costco was buying from suppliers in South America at prices about 1/3 what Rolex charges to suppliers in the US. Costco then was selling the watches for 1/3 of what official retailers were selling for.

      Funny that the Swiss want their companies protected from this practice, but are fining companies from other companies that do it to them.

      • JorPet

        Ooops, my bad, it was Omega (another Swiss company) that sued Costco. Point is still valid though.

        • jacob

          Has it occurred to you that it’s your local laws to blame for that? Not the Swiss, nor their companies. If your country implemented laws to protect consumers this would not happen. Wake up!

  • why?

    Bad news? I don’t understand.

    • http://nikonrumors.com/ [NR] admin

      Bad because they had to pay over $13M in fines.

      • http://www.russbarnes.co.uk RussB

        I hope it teaches them a lesson, money well spent if you ask me. I cannot abide big corporations who think they can throw their weight around to the detriment of consumers. Most will try their hand at one time or another, hopefully the message got rammed home to Nikon’s Board and they won’t try anything like that again.

      • I shoot Nikon

        Just because we use their product does not mean we approve of their evil behavior of sneaking illegal antitrust clauses into contracts. Today the evil was punished and it’s actually good and not bad news. If anything I’d be fining them 10 times as much in order to discourage such behavior in the future, since $13 million is pocket change for a giant like Nikon.

        Never realized that NR Admin was such a diehard Nikon fan. What if Nikon was fined for operating slave-camps of child laborers, would you still feel bad about the fines?

        • why?

          That’s it!

        • BartyL

          “What if Nikon was fined for operating slave-camps of child laborers…”

          Cue the neo-con swine who will state that is OK if it results in cheaper cameras for them and anyway if the third-world had paid attention in school and got straight ‘A’ they would all be President by now so really the children just have themselves to blame.

      • ISP

        At our level it’s 1325$ No big deal….

  • Richard

    It’s normal that companies get fined if they do not comply to national law. It’s not in the customers interest to get a protected market and just have to accept high prices.

    The profits don’t necessarily go into product development. More likely the investors get paid out more – that’s the game!

    • Sunn

      Or those money could have ended up as he bonus given to those Executives at Nikon rather than using it for R& D.

  • Sebastien_M

    I’m Swiss… and this SUCK !

    @Admin:

    Products: D4, D800, etc.. will be late ? :(

    • plug

      Too right, you should be last in the queue.

  • nobody

    They better searched the headquarters of the Swiss banks for all the billions of illegal money that criminals from all over the world have curtained there!

    • Back Jauer

      So… It’s the illegal Money of 1000ths. US Drug an Weapon Dealers who is stocked in Switzerland ! That’s right!!!
      By the way… we d’ont throw Bombs on half the World….
      US is a nice Country… But IQ of some peoples is worse than your Economy.
      In US Nikon would paying 150 Million just for farting….

      • nobody

        You mean me? Sorry, I’m European.

        • Back Jauer

          It exists no Country named Europe… There is not one Bank in the World without illegal Money in their Safe’s….
          And I talked of al the Neanderthalers here, who even know where Switzerland is and had buyed their Coolpix with a Bankcredit…

  • Ezio

    This is GOOD news, not bad!!!!

    Competition is good for consumers.

  • http://www.eaglewheel.us bikinchris

    Ironic that a country known for banks that hide money from taxes and illegal actions worldwide is going after a company for trying to curtail this activity.

    • jacob

      Oh, US banks instead have lots of integrity…c’mon!

      • plug

        Thedifference is that US banks are expected to have integrity, if they don’t always, but Swiss banks are not.

        • Jacob

          Well, enjoy your “expectations”…oh look, a flying pig…

  • robert55

    Don’t see why this should be bad news, at least not for Nikon /users/
    It means that Nikon can’t set prices higher in one country signifacantly higher than elsewhere.
    For the fanbois: yes, Canon is far less restrictive in this. That is not a reason to switch, it is just like it should be, from the customer’s point of view

    • C_QQ_C

      “It means that Nikon can’t set prices higher in one country signifacantly higher than elsewhere”

      Totally agree on that, its about time that companies stop selling at diiferent prizes in different countries. That would also stop the grey import problem that is created by those companies in this way..

      This should also go for other companies, not just photo-equipment producers, , and other “Big Amerikan Companies” like Harley Davidson, which are trying to dictate sales prices per country/region all over the world should undergo the same treatment

  • PeterO

    Over to you Jabs. What’s the good news report on this?

  • Brock Kentwell

    How is price competition bad again? Anything to offset Nikon’s new Iron Fist Price Control is good, imo.

  • Ken

    Swiss > Nikon > USA

  • http://none Mark

    Good!

  • JorPet

    Swiss companies do this very same thing (um, Rolex) with their exports. If it is good enough for Swiss companies, it should be good enough for companies outside of their borders. They want it both ways and that is what is wrong about this.

    • T.I.M

      There is still peoples in the world buying Swiss watches ?

      • Eric Calabros

        there are lots of them
        its a $60 bilion market

        • T.I.M

          @Eric Calabros
          I’m surprise, well they won’t make money with me, I never wear a watch !
          :)

  • Steve Starr

    So is this just the Nikon distributor in Switzerland who got the fine, or Japan?

    The Aussie distributor needs to be looked in as well as Nikon prices are absurd, or for just about anything and from all distributors. Seems like putting all the crooks from Europe in Australia as a penal colony somehow has festered into the gene pool with highway robbery as a normal gene to be found.

    $9,615 for a Nikon D3x! http://www.digitalcamerawarehouse.com.au/prod2879.htm

    Swiss better get used to higher Nikon prices very soon.

    • Cass Roads

      I just checked that link, and those prices are absurd. Canadian and Australian dollars are pretty much on par, but we pay about $400 less for a D700 or D7000, $1300 less for a D3s, and $2200 less for a D3x. So, in Canada you could buy a nice 35 1.8 with your D7000, or an 85 1.4 with your D3x for the same price that an Australian pays body only, and still have money left over. Highway robbery.

  • Hans

    Bad news? Any news not concernings coolpixes are good news!

    • Nikku

      minus product delay news
      minus price increase news
      minus missing ANY news about the products that were supposed to be updated

      :)

  • FM2Fan

    the real trouble is – Nikon Switzerland asked a 3rd party to investigate the market dynamics to counteract – most importantly: this happens during xmas sales

    no matter, what the result of the next legal instance is: this is all expensive –
    who effectively pay for all this?

    what could have been done to prevent such situation? information? transparency?

  • HateNikon

    Stupid nikon corp. I really hate it although I love the camera.

  • Nuno

    Bad news for who????

    Nikon behaviour with European customers is a shame . Why should I pay 20%-30% more than an US customer to have a camera or lens made in South East Asia????
    I hope this fine is followed for much more all over Europe until the stop discriminating european customers or at least allow gray market without guarantee problems. That would be good news!

    • kontrollausschuss

      +10!!!

    • Ric

      “Why should I pay 20%-30% more than an US customer to have a camera or lens made in South East Asia????”

      To pay for the bureaucrats in Brussels of course.

      • jacob

        Exactly!!!

    • open market

      +1
      At least the Swiss govt isn’t staying err…neutral on that situation.

      • Cass Roads

        ba-doom chhhh.

  • Yannick Willener

    Some lens are cheaper in Swiss than in US… The AF-S Nikkor 400mm f/2.8G ED VR is nearly $500 cheaper and come with a 3yr warranty…

    • broxibear

      Hi Yannick Willener,
      The warranty issue is one that really pisses me off.
      Earlier in the year I bought a 70-200mm f/2.8G VRII in the UK, it came with a 1 year Nikon warranty. If someone in Canada bought the same lens, which is made in the same Japanese factory, by the same people, they would get a 5 year Nikon warranty ?
      I asked Nikon UK about this and they said it had nothing to do with them, and was between particular countries and the Nikon distributor to that country.
      It’s a joke, as far as I’m concerned Nikon should provide the same warranty no matter which country you’re in.

      • PeterO

        Right on broxibear. Nikon’s warranty and repair policy needs an overhaul. We’re lucky here in Canada – 5 yrs on lenses and 2 yrs on cameras. Canon has the same on lenses but only 1 year on cameras so maybe Nikon has to do it to compete.

      • AnoNemo

        Broxibear,

        I do not like Apple but at least their warranty is the same around the world. A friend of mine on a trip had a problem with his iPad and he was able to get a replacement in a different country. His unit was purchased in the US and replaced in the UK. Try to do this with Nikon. …. not to mention your example when Nikon gives different warranties. I think Nikon should learn.

  • jerl

    Have to agree with a lot of the comments here- I’m not seeing this as bad news, as it really looks like Nikon is being punished for uncompetitive acts. The only real bad news is that it is unlikely that anything similar will happen in the US.

  • photdog

    We are living in a global village right now. People are loosing their jobs because somewhere labor is cheaper. Big industry is making their products all over the planet. Yet, they deny guarantee if buy their products outside the country you live in. Even if you have bought them at an authorized dealer in this foreign country.
    Concerning one original Nikon camera, the dealer was only able to tell an American and an European product from each other by a certain tiny label on the box though he had inspected the camera thoroughly and couldn’t find any difference!
    This business practice has to be terminated in favor of the customers, since they finally have paid the asking price out of their pocket. Thus I consider it as good news if a country takes action in this direction.
    If you run a stop light and get caught, you gotta pay. Simple as that. Cause you should have known. Now tell me that Nikon didn’t know?!? Why should shareholder companies be treated better than you and I?

  • http://photoartbymark.zenfolio.com photoartbymark

    vat vere day sinkink, dumbkopfs

  • T.I.M

    And what about Epson selling ink cartriges 23 times the price it cost ?
    I think that deserve a fine also.

  • Nicolò

    Good news, I hope they will learn their lesson!

  • http://www.andrewkrucko.com.au Andrew

    I win for more competition.

    I find it hypocritical that manufacturers will manufacture at the lowest priced countries but will restrict trade when it comes to purchasing their product from a lower priced source

  • Aldo

    This is not a bad news, it’s actually a great new

  • Discontinued

    Why is it bad news ? ? ?
    Free trade drives prices down. I think it is great news for swiss photographers – especially the Nikon shooters. Am I missing something?

  • MB

    This kind of things happen sometimes if you are too greedy.

  • FlashMaster-Sync

    I worked for Nikon many years & saw this coming… at least now the swiss customers will get more competitive prices.

  • pepito

    They probably made as much money in the first place by doing so not a big deal.

  • Emanuele

    It’s the same in Italy. They won’t repair a non-IT camera. Even if you want to pay for the repair. I hope that even in Italy will pay a fine like that!

  • Ola

    In 2005 i took a two nights trip EuropeNY, just to buy Nikon gear. I saved a lot of money on that trip, including ALL expenses.
    Why should companies be allowed to enforce these insane price differences?

    As a Nikon user, I will SAVE money, lots of money, on this rule of court!

  • gobsmacker

    It sounds much more impressive to cite the fine in Yen. It’s 1 Billion Yen. OMG!

  • JC

    Bad News? How is preventing any manufacturer from rigging the market bad news?

  • Willyb

    BAD NEWS??? All companies that try to screw over the consumer should be fined like that. Retail price maintenance is not good for anyone but the monopoly distributor and the manufacturer. Looks good on ‘em.

  • Pixelhunter

    Internet provides global price transparency. Differences in currency exchange rates, public prices in various markets as well as distributors’ and retailers’ margins fuel grey markets and parallel imports. Consequently, brands that try to build up local trade barriers (e.g. through “recommended” prices) are increasingly bypassed and the political will is to support that: WTO, regional trade zones, unified markets, currency harmonizations. Nikon is fined and Swiss consumers will enjoy less expensive cameras. Good news. However, strong global brands are reacting in incorporating external distributors and in setting up monobrand stores where prices, discounts and the flow of merchandising is better controlled. So better hurry up, on the long run cameras may get expensive again – in Switzerland or elsewhere. To prevent that to happen competition is needed. And the Swiss authorities now seem to have reminded Nikon about that. Fair enough.

  • Davix

    This is GOOD news, Nikon or others should play the game because at the end of the day WE are paying the bill while they protect their market. Ok they have been fined, lees cash for the shareholders that’s all nothing to do with production.

    If Nikon has good cameras, they should not be affraid by competition. Look how many people are wainting for the D800. They are ready to pay if the product is great, but it does not mean they are ready to pay any price (or higher price because they are in Europe or US..).

  • S

    To Stop this happenning. every countries should sell the same price as the US. no matter in what currency

  • http://PRuizPhoto.com Paul

    ok.. I don’t totally understand what happened I tried looking it up but, I got a little lost- Can someone say in layman terms for me?

  • Sahaja

    Bad news for Nikon – Good news for consumers.

    What other countries have a law like this – and will enforce it?

    In this day and age companies like Nikon should have a global price and give a global warranty. Of course they’d have to VAT or sales tax in some places.

    - C

  • FM2Fan

    some other thoughts on the subject: a globally operating brand needs to make sure, they comply with all rules and regulations. No exception …

    if for whichever reason, a local authority is in doubt: it is probably clever to cooperate rather than implement a diferent business&information campaign per country. This is for sure leading to concerns of authorities and customers …

    regarding the warranty and other business conduct: many Nikon customers travel the world, move from time to time to another country – why doesn’t Nikon harmonize the business conduct. the warranty should be referring to the product -
    premium price (in general) is to be justified at customer with services or other qualities included.

    Just think of it: you are visiting a foreign country and your gear needs repair -
    you certainly dare obtaining service and go ahead. Mostly this is a courtesy of
    the dealers (yes – they help, if you are nice) – but practically: equipment is a physical good PLUS service … (pls listen at Nikon – you can do it to your advantage)

  • Ernesto

    WHAT?? are you balming Switzerland? bloody Nikon is making illegal commercial moves to get more money from consumers, instead of letting someone import equipment at a lower price, they deserve the fine.

  • Daniel

    such an ignorant person, if you don’t know anything about Switzerland, you should keep your mouth close. The prototype you have, is the one all your low budget movies shown you.
    If you ally check, Switzerland doesn’t allow i.e. openin a company per Internet as in some places in the US, Switzerland is according to transparency international one of the nations were corruption it almost doesn’t exist, compare to where you live, we’re in a way better position, more examples?

  • Ray

    I don’t understand the mental stance of those claiming this is a bad thing for consumers.

    Nikon knowingly broke the law, deliberately artificially raising the prices for consumers. The appropriate organisation investigated this criminal behaviour by Nikon. They are incredibly lucky to get away with (in the scale of Nikon) a very minor fine. None of the responsible Nikon employees will be serving time in prison for defrauding customers out of millions in their deliberate breaking of the law.

    In that sense this is VERY GOOD news for Nikon that they got off lightly, it’s also good news for customers in that they will now enjoy more realistic prices than previously.

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