Amazon antitrust lawsuit dismissed by DC court

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Inside an Amazon Prime Now warehouse in Manhattan in 2015.

Ben Fox Rubin/CNET

A court has dismissed an antitrust lawsuit against Amazon that targeted the online retailer’s ability to penalize third-party sellers on its platform for charging lower prices on their own websites.

The suit, filed last May by DC Attorney General Karl Racine, on behalf of the District of Columbia, alleged that Amazon had too much control over the price outside sellers could charge for their products, driving up prices and hurting consumers.

On Friday, however, a DC Superior Court judge granted Amazon’s motion to dismiss, The Wall Street Journal reported. Court records did not give a reason for the dismissal, according to The New York Times, but the 360 ​​law noted the court found a lack of evidence that Amazon’s policies lead to higher prices.

Racine’s office pushed back on the dismissal and said it was considering his legal options.

“We believe the Superior Court got it wrong,” Racine’s office said in a statement provided to the media. “His oral decision did not appear to consider the detailed allegations in the complaint, the full scope of the anti-competitive agreements, the extensive briefing, and a recent federal court decision allowing a nearly identical lawsuit to proceed. “

Amazon did not respond to a request for comment.

In 2019, the e-tailer got rid of a contractual provision that expressly prohibited third-party sellers from charging lower prices outside of Amazon. The lawsuit alleged, however, that a similar provision essentially kept the restriction in place. Third-party sellers whose products might be found cheaper outside of Amazon could lose the “buy box” button on their listings, which allows customers to purchase items with a single click. according to Inc. They could also lose their selling privileges.

“Like any store, we reserve the right not to promote offers to customers that are not price competitive,” an Amazon spokesperson said when filing the complaint. “The relief sought by the AG would force Amazon to offer higher prices to customers, which would strangely run counter to the fundamental objectives of antitrust law.”

Racine, however, argued that third-party sellers who raised their prices on Amazon to compensate for the reduction taken by the online retailer would be forced to raise prices elsewhere or risk having their privileges withdrawn by Amazon.

CNET’s Laura Hautala contributed to this report.

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