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Who is meant to be protected by antitrust law and policy?

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The focus of contemporary competition policy debates is returning to first principles. What is the purpose of antitrust laws? Enforcers and some legislators in the United States are proposing to move away from consumers to an entirely different approach that focuses on exerting power over specific businesses. This change in approach is gaining momentum in some US states as well. Several state attorneys general recently sued tech companies for alleged antitrust violations without considering the consumer impact of their actual conduct and proposed remedies.California Attorney General (AG) Rob Bonta recently submitted A civil antitrust and unfair competition lawsuit alleging that Amazon’s pricing practices prevent retailers from offering prices lower than those offered in Amazon stores.California’s case is a mirror DC AG Karl Racine suit Filed on behalf of the District of Columbia, it argued that Amazon had too much control over how much outside vendors could charge for its products. but, of judgement Issued by the DC Superior Court. These recent cases raise an important question: Who are antitrust laws supposed to protect?

For the past 40 years, enforcers and courts have agreed that antitrust laws and policies should protect the welfare of consumers by promoting competition, not competitors. Importantly, the consumer welfare standards of the 1970s were too subjective and overly aggressive as previous US antitrust policies focused on corporate size regardless of consumer impact. It was developed in response to the belief that enforcers and courts have adopted consumer welfare standards, which have served as the backbone of antitrust policy in the United States and around the world. International convention network (ICN) and Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). As a result, the purpose of antitrust laws was to ensure economic efficiency, achieve low prices, encourage innovation, and enhance consumer benefits. For decades, the message has been clear that it is the consumer who should be protected by antitrust laws. This approach has resulted in an amazing level of innovation. And it’s no coincidence that a multitude of digital and connected services are now capable of delivering the tremendous benefits that consumers and businesses enjoy today.

Recently, however, U.S. antitrust law enforcement and even some legislators have moved away from consumer welfare standards to focus on the size of companies rather than protecting and benefiting consumers, and instead focusing on the “big”. It seems we’re back to a “things are bad” approach.Senator Amy Klobuchar recently called When David and Goliath discussed their fight to pass antitrust laws to regulate big tech companies, Jonathan Cantor, Assistant Attorney General for the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division, said: Declared “The era of lax law enforcement is over and a new era of robust and effective antitrust law enforcement has begun.” In addition, the new proposal, which includes notions of equity, workers’ rights and sustainability, raises many questions regarding its enforceability, clarity and subjectivity. And the rise in state antitrust lawsuits shows a complete lack of consumer interest. Indeed, the California and Washington, DC lawsuits against Amazon appear to defeat their primary objectives of competition and consumer protection.

of California AG lawsuit It claims Amazon imposes pacts at the retail and wholesale level because it has “prevented effective price competition across a wide range of online marketplaces and stores.” . Contract. “ However, these assertions are a misconception of the competitive retail industry and do not take into account the way Amazon operates. In fact, Amazon store sellers set their own prices for the products they offer, and may offer them even if they offer lower prices for the same products elsewhere. I can do it. Amazon store customers can still take advantage of those offers, even if the seller sets uncompetitive prices. However, it does not show up in Amazon’s “Buy Box”. This is Amazon’s way of highlighting better products for consumers. As such, Amazon offers additional benefits and services to consumers who know they can find competitive prices in Amazon stores, especially “Buy Boxes.” The remedies suggested by the California AG lawsuit will force Amazon to offer higher prices to consumers. How is that a consumer friendly idea? Who does this antitrust remedy protect? Not the consumer who will pay a higher price.

The same question was posed with the DC suit, DC AG Filed on behalf of the District of Columbia in May, Amazon claims it has too much control over how much outside vendors can charge for its products. but, of judgement Superior Court of Columbia Judge Hiram Puig-Lugo established that DC AG’s office could not uphold the complaint against Amazon. The court ruled that “under the content of the policy, sellers are free to set prices within the marketplace . ” This benefits the consumer.

These recent state lawsuits seem to go against the core purpose of antitrust laws and policies. Want to go back and protect your competitors?Or does it simply ban certain corporate practices without demonstrably harming competition? Or does it protect other social or policy objectives?And do antitrust laws protect them? When considering these basic questions, we should be guided by the following: of US Supreme Courtit is “growth or development as a result of a superior product [or] Business sense is not a violation of antitrust laws. The California and Washington, D.C. lawsuits against Amazon and the “bigger is worse” antitrust objectives focused on controlling certain companies rather than protecting consumers from consumer welfare standards Given the recent narrative of moving to approaches, the question remains of who is the antitrust. Should I protect it?

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