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FTC Builds Antitrust Lawsuit Against Amazon Over Alleged Marketplace Discrimination

Amazon is accused of using "coercive or deceptive user-interface designs," commonly referred to as "dark patterns."
Cover Image Source: GettyImages | David Ryder
Cover Image Source: GettyImages | David Ryder

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is initiating a legal case against Amazon's main online marketplace. According to the FTC, Amazon engages in discriminatory practices using its logistics services that favor merchants while penalizing those who choose other alternatives. This latest development comes as part of the FTC's ongoing efforts to closely examine Amazon's business practices.

Here, we will delve into the details of this antitrust case, examining its implications for Amazon's marketplace and potential consequences moving forward.


For quite some time, the FTC has been developing an antitrust case targeting Amazon's online marketplace. This case has been in the works since Amazon received an initial investigation notice from the FTC in June 2019. Recent reports suggest that the FTC, under the leadership of Chair Lina Khan, is finalizing key details of the complaint, such as the filing location.

Source: GettyImages | Mark Wilson  Staff
Source: GettyImages | Mark Wilson Staff

The complaint filed by the FTC accuses Amazon of engaging in underhanded practices aimed at maintaining customers' enrollment in its Prime program. These practices allegedly include the use of "coercive or deceptive user-interface designs," commonly referred to as "dark patterns." Additionally, the FTC claims that Amazon intentionally complicates the process of canceling Prime subscriptions, making it challenging for customers to end their payments.

Amazon strongly rejects the allegations made by the FTC. In a statement to FOX Business, an Amazon spokesperson stated, "The FTC's claims are false on the facts and the law." The company emphasizes that customers love Prime, and the company strives to make it clear and simple for customers to both sign-up for and cancel their Prime membership. Amazon asserts its commitment to continuously improving the customer experience and looks forward to presenting the facts in court.

Source: GettyImages | Quinn Rooney  Staf
Source: GettyImages | Quinn Rooney Staf

The recent complaint filed by the FTC in a federal court against Amazon, accusing the company of underhanded practices, is just one of the actions taken by the regulatory agency. The anticipated lawsuit regarding Amazon's marketplace practices is seen as a significant milestone in the FTC's efforts to address concerns related to the company's market dominance and potential antitrust violations. The complaint is expected to focus on how Amazon uses its power to favor merchants who utilize its logistics services.

Source: GettyImages | Alex Wong  Staff
Source: GettyImages | Alex Wong Staff

In addition to the marketplace practices investigation, the FTC is conducting a separate investigation into Amazon's $1.7 billion deal with iRobot, the maker of the Roomba vacuum cleaner. The purpose of this investigation is to determine how Amazon's warehousing and delivery service might have affected the product placements of third-party sellers on its online market. These findings could potentially shed further light on Amazon's business practices and their impact on competition.

Source: GettyImages | David McNew  Stringer
Source: GettyImages | David McNew Stringer

The outcome of the FTC's investigation and potential legal action against Amazon's marketplace practices holds significant implications for third-party sellers. If the allegations of Amazon disadvantaging sellers who do not use its logistics services are proven true, it could highlight the need for fair competition and equal opportunities within the marketplace. The resolution of this case may shape the future of Amazon's relationship with third-party sellers and potentially lead to structural changes in the company's operations. 


The upcoming legal action by the FTC against Amazon's primary online marketplace raises significant concerns about potential unethical practices and unfair competitive advantage. It is crucial to closely observe the developments of this case and assess its impact on Amazon, its marketplace, and the broader e-commerce industry. The resolution of this lawsuit holds the power to reshape the competitive landscape in the online marketplace and shape the future regulatory scrutiny of dominant e-commerce platforms.