DC Attorney General files antitrust suit against Amazon over third-party seller agreements

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Washington DC Attorney General Karl Racine announced a new antitrust suit against Amazon Tuesday, accusing the company of stifling competition by exerting control over third-party sellers.

The lawsuit, filed in DC Superior Court, alleges that Amazon fixed prices on its massive online retail platform by blocking third-party sellers from selling their products for less elsewhere. Racine argues that this kind of arrangement means that sellers roll Amazon’s hefty fees into their prices, creating an “artificially high” price floor across the online retail market.

That practice may run afoul of the District of Columbia’s Antitrust Act. The AG’s office argues that the practice allows Amazon to exert monopoly power in online retail.

“Amazon has used its dominant position in the online retail market to win at all costs. It maximizes its profits at the expense of third-party sellers and consumers, while harming competition, stifling innovation, and illegally tilting the playing field in its favor,” Racine said.

“We filed this antitrust lawsuit to put an end to Amazon’s illegal control of prices across the online retail market. We need a fair online marketplace that expands options available to District residents and promotes competition, innovation, and choice.”

The DC AG lawsuit is the latest state-level effort to take tech’s most powerful companies down a notch. Facebook and Google are both facing multi-state lawsuits for alleged anticompetitive behavior, even as federal lawmakers creep toward major antitrust reform.

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