Judge dismisses lawsuit accusing Amazon of antitrust violation over 3rd-party pricing

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The US Superior Court of the District of Columbia threw out a complaint that Attorney General Karl Racine had filed against Amazon accusing the retailer of anticompetitive behaviour, media reports say.

Last June, Racine’s office alleged that Amazon had used a variety of contract provisions to prevent third-party sellers from offering their wares for less elsewhere, reports The Verge, citing the Wall Street Journal (WSJ).

“We believe that the Superior Court got this wrong, and its oral ruling did not seem to consider the detailed allegations in the complaint, the full scope of the anticompetitive agreements, the extensive briefing and a recent decision of a federal court to allow a nearly identical lawsuit to move forward,” a spokesperson for the Attorney General told the outlet.

At the centre of Racine’s suit was Amazon’s Fair Pricing Policy. In 2019, amid antitrust scrutiny, the company stopped telling third-party sellers they couldn’t offer their wares at lower prices on competing marketplaces.

The complaint alleged that Amazon added a near-identical clause under its Fair Pricing Policy. The suit said that those guidelines allow the company to impose sanctions on merchants that sell their products for less money elsewhere.

When Racine’s office first filed its complaint, Amazon argued that many retailers employ pricing restrictions in their contracts.

“The DC Attorney General has it exactly backwards, sellers set their own prices for the products they offer in our store,” a spokesperson for the company told Engadget at the time.

“Amazon takes pride in the fact that we offer low prices across the broadest selection, and like any store we reserve the right not to highlight offers to customers that are not priced competitively. The relief the AG seeks would force Amazon to feature higher prices to customers, oddly going against core objectives of antitrust law,” it added.

Racine’s office said it was weighing whether to appeal the ruling.

“We are considering our legal options and we’ll continue fighting to develop reasoned antitrust jurisprudence in our local courts and to hold Amazon accountable for using its concentrated power to unfairly tilt the playing field in its favour,” it told the WSJ.

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