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Antitrust Lawyer Thinks US Is Unlikely To Follow EU Antitrust Example

 |  June 14, 2020

The European Union’s reported plan to bring antitrust charges against Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) for allegedly using third-party sellers’ data to unfairly compete against them is unlikely to be copied in the United States because of the differences in the two antitrust regimes, a U.S.-based antitrust attorney said Thursday.

The 1957 Treaty of Rome, which created the forerunner of the EU known as the European Economic Commission, gave European regulators broad authority to crack down on “abuse of dominance” by market leaders, Donald I. Baker said. Typically, this has led to significant fines against the companies being investigated, said Baker, who runs a Washington-based law firm. By contrast, U.S. antitrust law, as codified by the 1890 Sherman Act, gives dominant companies far more latitude in how they manage their positions in the market, he said. 

The Sherman Act, Baker said in an email, does not prohibit a dominant company from charging monopoly prices or exploiting the market in other ways. U.S. law only bans conduct found to exclude its rivals from competing in the monopolized market, he said.

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