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Tie-In Contracts with Downstream Competition

25 Pages Posted: 21 Dec 2008  

Sreya Kolay

Paul Merage School of Business, University of California, Irvine.

Date Written: September 2008


A tie-in contract has recently come under scrutiny for its role as an exclusionary device. A firm that is a monopolist in a primary market can utilize such contracts to exclude a more efficient rival in a secondary market. When the firms sell through competing retailers, the leveraging firm may offer tie-in contracts to the retailers inducing them to purchase both primary and secondary products entirely from it such that the rival is excluded. Assuming both upstream firms to be strategic, we find that whether such tie-in contracts are profitable or not depends on the type of competition at the downstream level. When retailers compete in prices, a tie-in strategy becomes strictly more profitable regardless of commitment status and the difference in costs of the upstream firms. This results holds even when retailers are differentiated and price competition is less intense. When retailers compete in quantities, commitment and cost status become relevant. Under commitment, a tie-in strategy can be strictly inferior if the rival firm's cost is significantly lower. Absent commitment, a tie-in contract is not feasible.

Suggested Citation

Kolay, Sreya, Tie-In Contracts with Downstream Competition (September 2008). Available at SSRN: or

Sreya Kolay (Contact Author)

Paul Merage School of Business, University of California, Irvine. ( email )

United States


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