Amazon.com Sues College Stores Association Over Textbook Ads

Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN), the biggest online retailer, sued for a court order declaring that its advertised discounts of 30 percent on new college textbooks and 90 percent on used ones aren’t false or misleading.

Amazon sued the National Association of College Stores Inc. today in federal court in Seattle, saying the trade group is trying to prevent it from advertising lower prices. The association filed a complaint in March with the Better Business Bureau in New York calling Amazon’s claims false and misleading, the online retailer said in its filing.

The lawsuit is the latest skirmish over sales practices at Seattle-based Amazon, which got its start in 1995 as an online bookseller. After Amazon introduced the Kindle digital reader in 2007, publishers complained that it was selling electronic books at a loss to gain market share. In a move to mollify publishers, the company last year agreed to give them some digital pricing control.

Charles Schmidt, a spokesman for the Oberlin, Ohio-based National Association of College Stores, had no immediate comment. Mary Osako, a spokeswoman for Amazon, declined to comment.

Amazon’s complaint seeks an order that its textbook price claims don’t violate the Lanham Act, which prohibits false advertising and trademark infringement.

The case is Amazon.com v. National Association of College Stores Inc., 11-754, U.S. District Court, Western District of Washington (Seattle).

To contact the reporters on this story: Karen Gullo in San Francisco federal court at kgullo@bloomberg.net; Joseph Galante in San Francisco at jgalante3@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net; Tom Giles at tgiles5@bloomberg.net

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