Amazon and Platform Antitrust

By Ben Bloodstein

With its decision in Ohio v. American Express, the U.S. Supreme Court for the first time embraced the recently developed, yet increasingly prolific, concept of the two-sided platform. Through advances in technology, platforms, which serve as intermediaries allowing two groups to transact, are increasingly ubiquitous, and many of the biggest tech companies operate in this fashion. Amazon Marketplace, for example, provides a platform for third-party vendors to sell directly to consumers through Amazon’s web and mobile interfaces.

At the same time that platforms and their scholarship have evolved, a burgeoning antitrust movement has also developed which focuses on the impact of the dominance of these tech companies and the fear that current antitrust laws are ill-equipped to prevent any potential anticompetitive behavior. Many of those who feel this way worried that American Express, which decided whether a plaintiff alleging anticompetitive behavior by a two- sided platform would have to show harm to both sides of the market to make a prima facie case, would give companies like Amazon even more power. This Note argues that while the case could be interpreted in such a way, because Amazon and similarly situated platforms possess a great degree of control over their users—in some cases competing with them directly—it would be unwise to do so.