Dr. Miles is Dead. Now What?: Structuring a Rule of Reason for Evaluating Minimum Resale Price Maintenance
61 Pages Posted: 4 Sep 2008
Date Written: September 4, 2008
In Leegin Creative Leather Prods., Inc. v. PSKS, Inc., decided in 2007, the U.S. Supreme Court overruled its 1911 precedent declaring vertical minimum resale price maintenance (RPM) to be per se illegal. The Leegin Court held that the practice should instead be examined on a case-by-case basis under antitrust's rule of reason. The Court further exhorted the lower courts to craft a "structured" rule of reason for evaluating RPM. This article critiques six approaches that have been proposed for evaluating minimum RPM and offers an alternative approach. The six approaches critiqued are (1) the Brandeisian, unstructured rule of reason; (2) Judge Posner's rule of per se legality; (3) the approach advocated by 27 states in the recent Nine West case; (4) the approach adopted by the Federal Trade Commission in that case; (5) the approach advocated by economists William Comanor and F.M. Scherer; and (6) the approach proposed in the Areeda & Hovenkamp Antitrust Law treatise. Finding each of these approaches deficient, the article proposes an alternative evaluative approach that harnesses economic learning and allocates proof burdens in a manner that minimizes the sum of decision and error costs, thereby maximizing the net social benefits of RPM regulation.
Keywords: antitrust, Dr. Miles, Leegin, resale price maintenance, rule of reason, vertical price restraints, vertical restraints, vertical-price fixing
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