An antitrust complaint against Amazon was dismissed by a judge, which sought to limit the e-tailer’s ability to punish third-party merchants on its platform for charging lower rates on their websites.
In May, the action, brought on behalf of the District of Columbia by DC Attorney General Karl Racine, claimed that Amazon had too much power over how much independent merchants may charge for their items, causing prices to rise and injuring consumers.
According to The Wall Street Journal, a DC Superior Court judge approved Amazon’s move to dismiss on Friday. According to The New York Times, court papers don’t specify a rationale for the dismissal, but Law 360 reports that the court found a lack of proof that Amazon’s practices contribute to increased costs.
Racine’s office reacted angrily to the dismissal, stating that it is evaluating legal alternatives.
Racine’s office issued a message to media outlets saying, “We feel the Superior Court got this wrong.” “Its oral ruling did not consider the complaint’s specific accusations, the entire nature of the anticompetitive agreements, the substantial briefing, or a previous federal court decision allowing a virtually identical litigation to proceed.”
A request for comment from Amazon was not immediately returned.
In 2019, Amazon dropped a contract clause that expressly forbade third-party merchants from selling cheaper rates outside of Amazon. However, according to the complaint, a similar clause effectively maintained the limitation. According to Inc., third-party sellers whose products can be obtained for less outside of Amazon may lose the “buy box” button on their listings, allowing shoppers to buy items with a single click. They may also lose their ability to sell.
When the lawsuit was filed, an Amazon spokeswoman remarked, “Like any company, we maintain the right not to showcase items to consumers that are not priced competitively.” “The remedies sought by the AG would compel Amazon to provide higher pricing to customers, which goes against antitrust law’s main purposes.”
On the other hand, Racine suggested that third-party sellers who hiked their prices on Amazon to cover the e-tailer’s cut would be obliged to raise prices elsewhere or risk having their Amazon rights revoked.