ZWeR 2016, 308

RWS Verlag Kommunikationsforum GmbH, Köln RWS Verlag Kommunikationsforum GmbH, Köln 2199-1723 Zeitschrift für Wettbewerbsrecht ZWeR 2016 AufsätzeDenis Schlimpert*

“Minimum Advertised Price” policies and the dividing line between price and non-price restraints – An analysis under U.S. antitrust and EU competition law in view of recent UK decisions

“Minimum Advertised Price” (MAP) policies prohibit retailers from advertising prices below a certain amount fixed by their suppliers. Legally, they leave the final decision on resale pricing to the retailers. However, given that, especially in the context of online sales, the communication of discounts through advertising is one of the retailers’ “key incentives” for price competition, MAP policies raise specific issues as to where the dividing line between (unlawful) price and (lawful) non-price restraints in vertical agreements is drawn. In this respect, the following contribution analyses MAP policies both under U.S. antitrust and EU competition law. With regard to the latter, it will particularly focus on two recent UK decisions.

Contents

  • I. Introduction
  • II. Importance of the internet as a sales channel
  • III. MAP policies’ objectives: avoiding “price wars”
  • IV. MAP policies between price and non-price restraints
  • V. EU competition law and the recent UK decisions on advertising price restrictions
    • 1. The CMA’s decision of 24 May 2016: de facto RPM
      • 1.1 EU case law on advertising price prohibitions
      • 1.2 MAP policy as de facto RPM
        • 1.2.1 “Flanking measures”: monitoring and disciplinary mechanism
        • 1.2.2 Pierre Fabre as an “all-purpose weapon” against any objection related to brand image?
    • 2. The OFT’s decision of 27 March 2014: hardcore restriction under Art. 4(b) VBER
  • VI. U.S. antitrust law: Rule of reason analysis for MAP policies
    • 1. FTC investigation on cooperative advertising programmes in the CD retailing sector
    • 2. The WorldHomeCenter decisions
  • VII. Conclusion
*
*)
Dr. iur., LL.M. (Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne). The author is Trainee (Rechtsreferendar) at OLG Oldenburg.

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