Online RPM and MFN Under Antitrust Law and Economics
32 Pages Posted: 18 Oct 2016 Last revised: 4 Jan 2017
Date Written: December 1, 2016
Depending on the legal framing, behavior that might in some circumstances resemble online resale price maintenance (RPM) agreements in other circumstances may instead resemble online most favored nation (MFN) agreements. Together, the cases that involve online RPM and MFN can be viewed as a natural experiment of how antitrust economics and law can adapt to an online world. Thus far, enforcement across jurisdictions has been based on economic theories that do not always match up with legal doctrine. Doctrinal confusion can thwart business practices that may be efficient.
This paper makes a number of contributions. We distinguish issues of online RPM from traditional RPM and online RPM from online MFN. Then, we apply the economic learning on RPM and analyze the antitrust cases of online RPM and MFN to date across the United States, Europe and Australia. The last part of this paper offers policy recommendations that reduce the confusion in current legal doctrine.
Keywords: resale price maintenance, most favored nation, RPM, MFN, antitrust, competition law, economics
JEL Classification: K21, L42, L11
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation