The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) filed an antitrust lawsuit against Amazon.com on Tuesday, and asked the court to consider forcing the online retailer to sell assets to restore competition in the online marketplace.
The FTC said that Amazon restricts retailers on its marketplace from discounting, which stifled competition, and forced sellers to use its ‘fulfillment service,’ a reference to its nationwide network of delivery vans and warehouses, which some critics say should be hived off from Amazon’s web business.
The lawsuit had been expected after years of complaints that Amazon.com and other tech giants abused their dominance of search, social media and online retailing to become gate keepers on the most lucrative aspects of the internet.
The lawsuit, which was joined by 17 state attorneys general, follows a four-year investigation and federal lawsuits filed against Alphabet’s Google and Meta Platforms’ Facebook.
The FTC said that it was asking the court to issue a permanent injunction ordering Amazon.com to stop its unlawful conduct. The lawsuit was filed in federal court in Seattle, where Amazon is based.
“Left unchecked, Amazon will continue its illegal course of conduct to maintain its monopoly power,” the FTC said in its complaint which asked the court “to put an end to Amazon’s illegal course of conduct, pry loose Amazon’s monopolistic control, deny Amazon the fruits of its unlawful practices, and restore the lost promise of competition.”
The FTC complaint asked for the court to consider “any preliminary or permanent equitable relief, including but not limited to structural relief, necessary to restore fair competition.”
Structural relief in antitrust jargon generally means a company sells an asset, such as a part of its business.
Amazon said that the FTC lawsuit was wrongheaded and would hurt consumers by leading to higher prices and slower deliveries.
MacDailyNews Take: The long slog commences.
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