The Federal Trade Commission and 17 state attorneys general sued Amazon alleging that the online retail and technology company is a monopolist that uses a set of interlocking anticompetitive and unfair strategies to illegally maintain its monopoly power. The FTC and its state partners say Amazon’s actions allow it to stop rivals and sellers from lowering prices, degrade quality for shoppers, overcharge sellers, stifle innovation, and prevent rivals from fairly competing against Amazon.
Every year the FTC brings hundreds of cases against individuals and companies for violating consumer protection and competition laws that the agency enforces. These cases can involve fraud, scams, identity theft, false advertising, privacy violations, anti-competitive behavior and more. The Legal Library has detailed information about cases we have brought in federal court or through our internal administrative process, called an adjudicative proceeding.
The Federal Trade Commission authorized an administrative complaint against the proposed merger between Microsoft Corp. and Activision Blizzard, Inc., a video game developer that creates and publishes games such as Call of Duty, World of Warcraft, Diablo, and Overwatch. Microsoft sells the Xbox gaming console and also offers a video game subscription service called Xbox Game Pass, as well as a cloud-based video game streaming service. The agency alleges that the deal would enable Microsoft to suppress competitors to its Xbox gaming consoles and its rapidly growing subscription and cloud-gaming business. The Commission withdrew the matter from adjudication in July 2023, and returned it to adjudication on September 26, 2023. The evidentiary hearing will commence 21 days after the issuance of the district court's decision in FTC v. Microsoft.
The Federal Trade Commission is taking action against Amazon.com, Inc. for its years-long effort to enroll consumers into its Prime program without their consent while knowingly making it difficult for consumers to cancel their subscriptions to Prime.
In a complaint filed today, the FTC charges that Amazon has knowingly duped millions of consumers into unknowingly enrolling in Amazon Prime. Specifically, Amazon used manipulative, coercive, or deceptive user-interface designs known as “dark patterns” to trick consumers into enrolling in automatically-renewing Prime subscriptions.
Amazon also knowingly complicated the cancellation process for Prime subscribers who sought to end their membership. The primary purpose of its Prime cancellation process was not to enable subscribers to cancel, but to stop them. Amazon leadership slowed or rejected changes that would’ve made it easier for users to cancel Prime because those changes adversely affected Amazon’s bottom line.
In December 2019, the FTC announced The University of Phoenix and its parent company agreed to pay a record $191 million to resolve allegations that they used deceptive advertisements falsely touting their relationships and job opportunities with companies such as AT&T, Yahoo!, Microsoft, Twitter, and The American Red Cross. The settlement order requires UOP to pay $50 million in cash, as well as cancel $141 million in debts owed to the school by students harmed by the deceptive ads.
In March 2021, the FTC sent payments totaling nearly $50 million to more than 147,000 UOP students who may have been lured by allegedly deceptive advertisements.
In late September 2023, the U.S. Department of Education announced that it will forgive nearly $37 million in federal loans for more than 1,200 students affected by the University of Phoenix’s deceptive practices, based in part on the FTC’s 2019 case.
As a result of a Federal Trade Commission lawsuit, a federal court has temporarily shut down a business opportunity scheme that lured consumers to invest $22 million in online stores, using unfounded claims about income and profits. The operators of Automators also claimed to use artificial intelligence to ensure success and profitability for consumers who agreed to invest with Automators.
In addition to offering consumers high return as “passive investors” in profitable e-stores, Automators, which previously used the names Empire and Onyx Distribution, also offered to teach consumers how to successfully set up and manage e-stores themselves using a “proven system” and the powers of artificial intelligence.
A federal court granted the Federal Trade Commission’s request to temporarily shut down an alleged pyramid scheme known as “Success By Health,” and to freeze the assets of the company and its executives.
In May 2023, a federal court sided with the Federal Trade Commission, ruling that James D. Noland, Jr. illegally owned and operated two pyramid schemes—Success By Health (SBH) and VOZ Travel—in violation of the FTC Act and that Noland violated a previous federal court order barring him from pyramid schemes and from misrepresenting multilevel marketing participants’ income potential.
The Federal Trade Commission required Medtronic, Inc. to divest a key subsidiary of Intersect ENT, Inc. as a condition of acquiring Intersect. Under the FTC consent decree, Instersect’s Fiagon subsidiary, which makes ear, nose, and throat navigation systems and balloon sinus dilation products, will be sold to Hemostasis, LLC. According to the complaint, without this divestiture, the acquisition would pose a threat to future competition in the United States for both ENT navigation systems and balloon sinus dilation products. On June 30, 2022, the Commission announced the final consent agreement in this matter.
In September 2023, the FTC announced online shoe retailer Hey Dude, Inc. (Hey Dude) will pay $1.95 to settle charges that the company misled consumers by suppressing negative reviews, including more than 80 percent of reviews that failed to provide four or more stars out of a possible five. The FTC also contends the company violated the Commission’s Mail, Internet, or Telephone Order Merchandise Rule in several ways between 2020 and 2022.
The FTC will require background report providers TruthFinder and Instant Checkmate to pay $5.8 million to settle charges that they deceived consumers about whether consumers had criminal records and that the companies violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) by operating as consumer reporting agencies.
In August 2023, the FTC approved a proposed consent order to resolve antitrust concerns surrounding Intercontinental Exchange, Inc.’s (ICE) proposed $13.1 billion acquisition of Black Knight, Inc. The proposed settlement ensures Black Knight’s divestiture of Empower and Optimal Blue, two businesses that provide critical services in the mortgage origination process. The FTC also secured other concessions to promote the success of the divested businesses.
In August 2023, the FTC reached a proposed consent order with Amgen Inc. to address the potential competitive harm that would result from Amgen’s $27.8 billion acquisition of Horizon Therapeutics plc. As part of a nationwide settlement of their challenge to the acquisition, the FTC and attorneys general from six states – California, Illinois, Minnesota, New York, Washington, and Wisconsin – also dismissed the related federal court preliminary injunction action, allowing the transaction to proceed, with the conditions imposed by the order.
Statement of Chair Lina M. Khan Joined By Commissioner Rebecca Kelly Slaughter and Commissioner Alvaro Bedoya In the Matter of Amgen, Inc. and Horizon Therapeutics plc
The Federal Trade Commission has taken action against a group of Massachusetts- and New Hampshire-based clothing accessories companies, along with their owner, Thomas Bates, for falsely claiming that certain company products were manufactured in the U.S. The FTC’s order stops the companies and Bates from making deceptive claims about products being “Made in USA” and requires them to pay a monetary judgment.
The FTC obtained an order against education technology provider Edmodo for collecting personal data from children without obtaining their parent’s consent and using that data for advertising, in violation of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act Rule (COPPA Rule), and for unlawfully outsourcing its COPPA compliance responsibilities to schools.