Amazon has been targeted by businesses that rely on the online retailer to sell goods

(Bloomberg) — Companies that rely on Inc. to sell their goods begin teaming up against the e-commerce retail giant.

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A trio of well-connected antitrust lawyers Thursday launched the Responsible Online Commerce Coalition, which represents a group of small businesses and big brands that will push the U.S. government to push back Amazon’s power over the online shopping ecosystem.

“We believe Amazon has been cleared to a large extent,” said Damien Geradin, one of the advocates who led the coalition. He is one of the founders of Geradin Partners, an antitrust law firm that specializes in fighting big tech companies and other companies.

The group will help bolster political power among companies that have struggled because of Amazon’s actions, proponents say. Amanda Lewis, a cofounder of the coalition and a former aide to the House Judiciary Committee’s antitrust panel, said the Responsible Online Commerce Coalition will work to get its stories directly to policymakers who oversee the tech companies.

“I found that policymakers were much more touched by a small business owner telling his story than five touches by an Amazon lobbyist,” said Lewis, who helped direct the House Judiciary Committee’s work on Amazon during the 16-month study of some of the largest technology companies.

An Amazon spokesperson did not immediately respond to an email request for comment.

Both Geradin and Lewis met while advising the Coalition for App Fairness, a group dedicated to mobilizing small app developers against Apple Inc.’s policies. They concluded that it would be helpful to have a similar coalition targeting Amazon.

The group is not yet publicly disclosing names or numbers of members, but organizers say several companies have already committed to join — from a large public company to small third-party vendors. Many companies fear retaliation from Amazon, they say.

“Because of Amazon’s monopoly on sellers on their platform, they can arbitrarily suspend sellers, raise or change rates, and give themselves access to information and tools that are not available to merchants across the country,” said Democratic Representative David Cicilline of Rhode. Island. , former head of the House Justice Department antitrust subcommittee during the last Congress. “I welcome the creation of a coalition of vendors to push back on this policy.”

Geradin, Lewis and third co-founder Tom Smith, of Geradin Partners, acknowledge that they are less likely than the tech companies, which spend hundreds of millions of dollars on lobbying and have an extensive network of trade groups in Washington. Coalition founders hope to collect fees from companies based on their size, meaning that smaller companies will pay less while larger companies, especially the biggest brands, can give more.

The creation of the e-commerce coalition comes as governments around the world are considering cracking down on Amazon. The US Federal Trade Commission is investigating Amazon’s potentially anti-competitive behavior. The European Union is working to implement the Digital Markets Act, antitrust legislation aimed at curbing the commercial practices of “gatekeeper” technology companies, including Amazon, Apple, Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Meta Platforms Inc. And the UK is considering a similar regime for the tech industry.

The group will advocate for competitive pricing for seller commissions, limit the amount of counterfeit products circulating online, give sellers the freedom to list their products at a discount, and ensure that search results are fair and non-discriminatory.

Garrett Ventry, former chief of staff to Colorado Republican Representative Ken Buck and a lobbyist for the Coalition for App Fairness, said he saw a need during his time on the hill for “a group that focuses on Amazon’s growing damage, especially when Amazon quickly makes acquisitions”. other companies and continue to expand rapidly into other areas.”

(Updates where Amazon doesn’t immediately comment in the sixth paragraph.)

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