FTC's lawsuit against Amazon tests U.S. antitrust law; experts say FTC faces high bar to prove consumers better off without Amazon's policies. Amazon must prove its policies have "legitimate" reasons to counter FTC's claims. U.S. judges "wary" of punishing low-pricing behavior, unclear line between good/bad low pricing.
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission's lawsuit accusing Amazon.com of abusing its retail market power to stifle competition faces hurdles in court, testing the scope of U.S. antitrust law and posing roadblocks for the agency, legal experts said.
The U.S. consumer agency, which enforces federal antitrust law, and 17 states filed their lawsuit against Amazon in Seattle federal court on Tuesday, asking a U.S. judge to consider an injunction and other penalties to combat alleged unlawful conduct.
Several legal experts told Reuters that the FTC faces a high bar in trying to show that U.S. consumers would be better off in a world without Amazon's policies in place.
The lawsuit said Amazon has unfairly given preference to its own products and that the company's policies punish merchants that want to sell products for lower prices on other platforms.
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Under U.S. law, the FTC has the burden to prove that Amazon is not just a big market player with power but also that it has taken illegal steps to acquire or maintain its dominance. The agency also must define and prove the relevant markets, a key threshold issue.
Antitrust lawyer David Balto, a former policy director at the FTC, described the FTC's hard climb ahead as trying to surmount Washington state's Mt. Rainier in tennis shoes.