FTC Announces Agendas for Resale Price Maintenance Workshops in May

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The Federal Trade Commission today announced the agendas for the next two in its series of public workshops on resale price maintenance (RPM). Panels will focus on the history of the practice, empirical evidence on the effects of RPM, and how it should be analyzed under the antitrust laws. The agendas, which are posted on the Commission’s Web site at http://www.ftc.gov/opp/workshops/rpm/, outline the schedule for the two events, which will be held at FTC Headquarters in Washington, DC, on May 20 and 21, 2009.

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 called 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.

Last October, the Commission announced it would hold a series of public workshops in early 2009 to examine, 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 RPM that benefit consumers and those that do not.

The May workshops will be comprised of three panels, two on May 20, and one on May 21. The first panel will be moderated by Pauline Ippolito, Acting Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Economics, and will examine empirical evidence on the effects of RPM. Specifically, it will review existing empirical studies of RPM, or studies of other vertical restraints that might inform the thinking on RPM. The panel also will explore potential future research in light of possible testable hypotheses underlying the competitive effects of RPM.

The second panel, to be moderated by Laurel Price, Attorney Advisor to FTC Commissioner Pamela Jones Harbour, will examine the legal and business history of the use of RPM in the United States. It will explore how RPM has been treated in this country historically, as well as the legal and business management doctrines related to RPM.

The third panel, also to be moderated by Price, will examine “rule of reason analyses” after the Supreme Court’s landmark Leegin decision, and will assess guidance provided by the Leegin Court regarding the analysis of RPM.

Each workshop is free and open to the public. Pre-registration is not required. A more-detailed description of each workshop will be issued before it takes place, 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 on the workshop Web page at: http://www.ftc.gov/opp/workshops/rpm/. 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 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.

(RPM Workshop.09.final.wpd)

Contact Information

Mitchell J. Katz,
Office of Public Affairs