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The FTC’s Landmark Case Against Amazon Tackles the Central Issue of e-Commerce Market Power

 |  September 29, 2023

By: Tom Smith (The Platform Law Blog)

Following the appointment of Lina Khan, a prominent Amazon critic, as the chair of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), anticipation grew for a significant lawsuit against Amazon. This anticipation came to fruition as the lawsuit was officially filed on Tuesday, a collaborative effort between the FTC and 17 state attorneys general.

The allegations presented by the FTC against Amazon include the escalation of fees and commissions, an increase in advertisements cluttering webpages, the display of inferior results in the Buy Box and result rankings for consumers, and an overall degradation of the platform. This unfavorable environment for consumers and competitors is exacerbated by Amazon’s “anti-discounting” policies, hindering rival e-commerce platforms from capitalizing on the situation. Additionally, rival logistics firms face fierce competition as sellers are essentially compelled to utilize Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA).

Related: Judge Drops Off from Amazon Antitrust Case 

The case at hand is ambitious, prompting curiosity regarding the FTC’s approach in framing Amazon’s diverse strategies. Would it be a comprehensive case attempting to weave together Amazon’s various tactics into a broader narrative of exclusionary and exploitative practices? Or would it adopt a narrower approach, focusing on a select few specific strategies? The latter strategy aligns with the approach often taken by UK and EU agencies, aiming to expedite cases and prevent them from becoming unwieldy. However, critics argue that these narrower cases might do less to enhance competition and overall consumer outcomes…