The Federal Trade Commission today announced that it will hold a series of public workshops early next year to explore, for the purposes of enforcing Section 1 of the Sherman Act and Section 5 of the FTC Act, how to best distinguish between uses of resale price maintenance (RPM) that benefit consumers and those that do not. The Commission expects the workshops to focus on legal doctrines and jurisprudence related to RPM, theoretical and empirical economic research, and business and consumer experiences.
RPM typically involves an agreement between a manufacturer and retailer setting the prices at which the retailer will resell the manufacturer’s goods to consumers. If the agreement requires the retailer to sell the goods only at or above prices established by the manufacturer, it is said to be minimum RPM. On the other hand, if the agreement requires the retailer to sell the products only at or below the price established by the manufacturer, it is said to be maximum RPM. Among other things, the workshops will examine when and where particular market facts or conditions make it more or less likely that the use of RPM will be procompetitive or neutral, and when or whether such RPM may harm competition and consumers.
As detailed in a Federal Register notice announcing the workshops, which is available now on the Commission’s Web site and as a link to this press release, the FTC is requesting public comment from attorneys, economists, marketing professionals, the business community, consumer groups, law enforcers, academics, and other interested parties on three general subjects:
- The legal, economic, and management principles relevant to applying Sections 1 of the Sherman Act and Section 5 of the FTC Act to RPM, including the ability to administer current or potential antitrust or other rules for applying these laws;
- The business circumstances regarding the use of RPM that the Commission should examine in the upcoming workshops, including examples of actual conduct; and
- Empirical studies or analyses that might provide better guidance and assistance to the business and legal communities regarding RPM enforcement issues.
The Commission plans to hold four to six RPM workshops, each of which will be free and open to the public. Pre-registration is not required. A more-detailed description of each workshop will be issued prior to the date they will be held, will include information on the workshop location, and will solicit additional public comment on the topic to be addressed. Information on how to submit comments on the workshop series as a whole can be found in the Federal Register notice announced today. Comments, as well as requests to participate in the workshops, must be received by the FTC no later than December 12, 2008. All written comments will be placed on the public record.
Each workshop will be accessible to people with disabilities. Anyone needing a related accommodation should contact Carrie McGlothlin at the FTC at 202-326-3388. Such requests should include a detailed description of the accommodations needed and contact information if more information is needed. Please provide advance notice of accommodation needs.
The Commission vote approving publication of the Federal Register notice announcing the workshop series was 4-0.
The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish, visit the FTC's online Complaint Assistant or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). The FTC enters complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 1,500 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad. The FTC's Web site provides free information on a variety of consumer topics.
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