Minimizing Antitrust Risk in Pricing

Most manufacturers continue to avoid price maintenance agreements with distributors and resellers and impose unilateral resale price policies. Vedder Price’s Brian McCalmon discusses how what’s visible to the consumer confronted with MAP and MRP is only the tip of an iceberg comprised of a carefully constructed, maintained and enforced customer relationship program that walks a line between legal and possibly illegal conduct under federal and state antitrust laws.

“Place in Cart to See Price” – the message on retailer websites is never more than a few clicks away. It’s an extra step in the process, but you are usually rewarded with a sizable discount. Of course, many products are never discounted. You never see a cheap price for a genuine Rolex, for example, no matter where you look. Why not? Some products are almost never sold below certain price levels because the manufacturers’ resale pricing policies discourage it. So unfortunately, you cannot buy a Rolex on Amazon at a major discount. Other manufacturers restrict the price at which their products are advertised, leaving the sale price unaddressed. Retailers comply with these minimum resale price and minimum advertising policies (MRP and MAP, respectively) announced by their suppliers…

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