Amazon fires a fastball at the FTC’s head

From Bloomberg’s “Amazon Wants FTC Chair Khan Recused Over Past Criticism” posted Wednesday:

Amazon wants Federal Trade Commission Chair Lina Khan recused from matters involving the company because of her history criticizing the online retailer as a threat to competition.

Amazon filed a request with the agency on Wednesday, arguing that Khan should be barred from handling antitrust enforcement decisions affecting the company, according to documents obtained by Bloomberg News.

Khan “has on numerous occasions argued that Amazon is guilty of antitrust violations and should be broken up,” Amazon said in its petition. “These statements convey to any reasonable observer the clear impression that she has already made up her mind about many material facts relevant to Amazon’s antitrust culpability as well as about the ultimate issue of culpability itself.”

The move comes as the FTC is reviewing Amazon’s proposed $8.45 billion acquisition of movie studio Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. The deal has been criticized by those worried about the growth of tech companies, but antitrust experts have said it will be difficult for regulators to stop.

My take:  That’s so Amazon.

See the Apple 3.0 Lina Khan archives.

12 Comments

  1. David Emery said:
    This is certainly a “shot across the bows” at the Biden Administration. And legally, I’m not sure a pre-emptive ruling would be appropriate. (IANAL, but “Amazon has suffered no damage and therefore has no basis.” )

    And I’m sure Congress will take note of Amazon’s aggressive legal filing.

    3
    June 30, 2021
  2. Ralph McDarmont said:
    Every successful company is a threat to competitors. When did success become illegal? Success is earned and should be honored. Competitors should work on their game and win. Apple has done this several times in several categories. Consumers don’t need protection, especially when enforced by domestic or international agencies with zero knowledge of the products and complex markets involved. Consumers have free choice. I know I do.

    8
    June 30, 2021
    • Gregg Thurman said:
      Consumers have free choice.

      To the extent that they have free access to alternatives, I’d agree.

      As that choice pertains to Apple consumers they have opted to pay more for somewhat comparable services. I say comparable because the services offered by Apple and its competitors aren’t comparable. In my opinion, the premium consumers are willing to pay for Apple’s products and services are differentiated by their (here comes the refrain)
      1/ ability to sync with all Apple products without user action
      2/ built-in OS defenses against malware
      3/ unparalleled user privacy protections

      Number 3/ is a very important value add because Apple’s privacy protection features are unique in the industry. How do you price unique features that are highly desired? The importance, to the consumer, of protecting against consumer tracking has become exceedingly obvious since Apple consumers gained the ability to opt-out of 3rd party tracking.

      I do not buy into the argument that Apple’s 30% developer fee is onerous leading to higher consumer prices. Apple may have set the standard when it launched the App Store, but the industry has made no attempt to compete with each other on developer fees. This is especially important as Apple’s market share in hardware and Services fall well below monopoly levels. Additionally, forced lowering of those fees will not result in lower App fees to the consumer. Even if it did, how much lower than 99¢ can an App cost, especially when the vast majority are available for free? Apps that cost more than 99¢ are not competing on price, they are competing on utility. None are going broke based on Apple’s developer fees.

      3
      June 30, 2021
  3. Fred Stein said:
    Front page, WSJ today; “Amazon Demands One More Thing From Some Vendors: A Piece of Their Company

    “Certain suppliers are asked to give Amazon the right to buy shares at potentially lower-than-market rates as part of their contract

    7
    June 30, 2021
    • David Emery said:
      That’s definitely fodder for some of the legislation being proposed in Congress!

      3
      June 30, 2021
    • Gregg Thurman said:
      “Certain suppliers are asked to give Amazon the right to buy shares at potentially lower-than-market rates as part of their contract

      Would definitely like to know much more about this. My initial thought is that Amazon, no matter how greedy, would not take a position that would expose itself to review and possible prosecution, without a strong legal footing.

      2
      June 30, 2021
    • Kirk DeBernardi said:
      @ Fred Stein —

      If true, sinful flexing applied to the indefensible by greed-stained minds.

      Amazon should be ashamed.

      (Yeah, right.)

      1
      July 1, 2021
  4. Dave Ryder said:
    Amazon’s argument might be valid.

    1
    June 30, 2021
  5. Michael Goldfeder said:
    Did Lina Khan sign the petition to keep Jeff Bezos from landing back on earth after his space flight? That might provide a much better argument for recusal.

    2
    June 30, 2021
    • Jerry Doyle said:
      @Michael Goldfeder: I understand Ms. Khan asked for an injunction for the “New Shepard” to be detour to Pluto.

      1
      June 30, 2021
      • Michael Goldfeder said:
        @Jerry Doyle:

        Lina keeps that up and she stands a better chance of making my holiday card list. Thanks for the info.

        2
        June 30, 2021
      • David Emery said:
        Independent of what you think of Bezos, the court should have thrown the book at Khan for a bogus legal pleading.

        0
        July 1, 2021

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