Amazon.com Inc. is asking a judge to declare that the online retailer's ads for discounted new and used college textbooks are neither false nor misleading, contrary to complaints by the trade association that represents college bookstores.
Amazon filed suit Tuesday in Seattle federal court against the National Association of College Stores Inc., which represents more than 3,100 college stores.
It says in the suit that the group is "actively seeking" to limit Amazon's ads that indicate students can save as much as 30 percent off the price on new textbooks and 90 percent on used ones by purchasing textbooks through Amazon.com.
The suit follows a complaint the group filed in March with the Better Business Bureau's National Advertising Division in New York, calling Amazon's ads false and misleading. The group also argued "the claims are somehow too complex to be understood by consumers or substantiated by Amazon," the online retailer said in its court filing.
In a statement Wednesday, the Oberlin, Ohio-based National Association of College Stores said its complaint was intended "to promote a level playing field by eliminating unsubstantiated advertising claims." The group said it hasn't yet been served with the suit, but "will respond to it in due course."
Marc Fleischaker, a lawyer for the National Association of College Stores, said the group argues Amazon's ads are inaccurate because they're for books that may be sold by Amazon directly or by merchants that sell through its site. If Amazon isn't selling all the books directly, it can't substantiate its discount claims, the group argues.
Amazon is seeking a court declaration that the ads the group is challenging are not false or misleading in violation of the Lanham Act, which is legislation that forbids trademark infringement and false advertising.
Amazon spokeswoman Mary Osako said the company does not comment on ongoing litigation.