Amazon Faces Lawsuit Over Allegations of Market Abuse and Anti-Competitive Practices
Amazon, the e-commerce giant, is now facing a lawsuit filed by U.S. regulators and 17 states. The lawsuit alleges that the company has been using its market position to inflate prices on other platforms, overcharge sellers, and stifle competition. This legal challenge, filed on Tuesday in the US District Court for the Western District of Washington, follows a years-long investigation into Amazon’s business practices.
The Federal Trade Commission and the states involved in the lawsuit are seeking a permanent injunction against Amazon, which would aim to prohibit the company from continuing its alleged illegal conduct and loosen its monopolistic control to restore competition. The lawsuit claims that Amazon engages in anti-competitive practices, including discouraging sellers from offering lower prices for products on non-Amazon sites. It also alleges that the company favors its own brands over other products of better quality and charges high commissions to sellers, forcing them to pay almost half of their total income to Amazon.
FTC Chair Lina Khan stated that the lawsuit provides detailed allegations on how Amazon exploits its market power, raising prices and degrading service for American families and businesses. Many have speculated whether the agency would seek the forced dissolution of Amazon, which dominates various sectors such as retail, cloud computing, food, and healthcare. However, Khan emphasized that the focus is currently on accountability rather than dissolution.
Amazon holds approximately 40% of the e-commerce market and facilitates the majority of its sales through independent sellers, including small and medium-sized businesses. These sellers pay fees to Amazon for access to the platform and services such as advertising, which increases their visibility. However, fees imposed on sellers have been steadily increasing, with some estimates suggesting that they cost American sellers 45% of their revenue in the first half of this year alone.
The lawsuit also addresses accusations that Amazon uses merchants’ data to create its own competing products, undercutting sellers on its platform. Amazon recently announced the elimination of certain private labels and the relaunching of items under well-known brands such as Amazon Basics and Amazon Essentials. Booksellers and authors have additionally called for an investigation into Amazon’s market power in the book industry.
Amazon has yet to provide a comment regarding the lawsuit. If successful, the case could be a significant achievement for FTC Chair Lina Khan, known for her criticism of Big Tech. The FTC has been actively pursuing actions against major tech companies but has faced challenges in recent high-profile cases. The Justice Department is also currently challenging Google’s market power in court.
While similar cases have been filed in the past, the outcome of this federal lawsuit against Amazon will be closely watched. The legal action represents a major milestone in addressing allegations of market abuse and anti-competitive practices by one of the world‘s largest and most influential companies.
(With information from AP)