The US state of California filed a lawsuit on Wednesday against online shopping giant Amazon for allegedly violating antitrust laws by blocking price competition. Rob Bonta, the Californian attorney general, said that Jeff Bezos’s company forces small retailers to keep prices artificially high through unfavorable agreements or the fear of having their products taken down from the platform. The lawsuit wants the court to order Amazon to end these practices, and to pay $2,500 in damages for each affected third-party seller.
“For years, California consumers have paid more for their online purchases because of Amazon’s anticompetitive contracting practices,” said Bonta in a statement. The 84-page lawsuit, which is heavily redacted to protect sensitive information, underscores how heavily retailers depend on Amazon. The online platform gives retailers the chance to market their products to the 160 million households that are Amazon Prime members. The company controls 80% of US retail sales of books and magazines, and 50% of electronics, packaged goods and toys.