ZWeR 2008, 208

RWS Verlag Kommunikationsforum GmbH, Köln RWS Verlag Kommunikationsforum GmbH, Köln 1611-1982 Zeitschrift für Wettbewerbsrecht ZWeR 2008 EntscheidungsbesprechungPeter Gey / Hans-Georg Kamann*

The assessment of minimum resale price maintenance in Europe in the aftermath of Leegin

In the Leegin decision handed down in June 2007, the US Supreme Court lifted the long-standing per se prohibition of minimum resale price maintenance agreements under Sec. 1 of the Sherman Act and held that – due to possible pro-competitive effects these practices may have – the rule of reason should be applied for judging such restrictions. This article discusses whether this change of assessment in the United States may suggest adopting a more balanced approach toward minimum resale price maintenance also under European competition law, particularly in light of the “more economic approach'' increasingly applied by the European Commission.

Contents

  • I. Introduction
  • II. The Supreme Court's decision in Leegin
    • 1. Facts
    • 2. Majority decision: per se rule no longer applies for RPM
    • 3. Consequences of Leegin and the issue of US state antitrust laws
    • 4. Applying the rule of reason – The Nine West decision of the FTC
  • III. Pro-competitive justification and dangers of RPM
    • 1. Economic framework for the assessment under a consumer welfare standard
    • 2. Possible pro-competitive effects
    • 3. Possible negative effects
    • 4. Separating “good'' and “bad'' RPM
    • 5. Summary
  • IV. Change of assessment under Art. 81 EC-Treaty?
    • 1. Current assessment of minimum RPM under Art. 81 EC-Treaty
      • 1.1 General framework of legal assessment – no per se rules exist
      • 1.2 Case law of the ECJ on RPM
      • 1.3 Assessment in Commission practice – RPM as “hardcore'' restriction
      • 1.4 Conclusion
    • 2. Can European competition law accommodate a more balanced assessment of RPM?
      • 2.1 Review of rationales of the Commission labeling RPM a “hardcore'' restriction
      • 2.2 ECJ case law: differentiated view on price effects of vertical agreements
    • 3. Options for applying a differentiated approach toward RPM
      • 3.1 Art. 81 (1) EC-Treaty
      • 3.2 Block exemption under Regulation 2790/1999?
      • 3.3 Individual exemption under Art. 81 (3) EC-Treaty?
  • V. Conclusion
*
*)
Dr. Peter Gey, LL.M. (University of Chicago) is an associate in the antitrust group in the Frankfurt/M. office of Mayer Brown LLP. Dr. Hans-Georg Kamann is partner in that group and Director of the Centre of European Law at the University of Passau (CEP).

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