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Antitrust Law

States Crack Down on Minimum Price Demands Following High Court Decision

Posted Dec 22, 2010 12:24 PM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Manufacturers that don’t allow their products to be sold at a discount won an antitrust suit in the U.S. Supreme Court more than three years ago, but they are facing losses in state legislatures.

Several states have passed laws that beef up bans on price fixing, and several state attorneys general have sued manufacturers based on state laws, USA Today reports. The actions follow the U.S. Supreme Court’s June 2007 decision Leegin Creative Leather Products Inc. v. PSKS Inc., which held that companies may set and enforce minimum prices if they promote competition. The case involved a retailer selling discounted Brighton handbags.

Among the state lawsuits chronicled in the article:

• Tempur-Pedic is accused of violating state laws by refusing to supply its beds to retailers unless they adhere to minimum prices. The suit, filed by New York’s attorney general, was heard this fall by a judge who hasn’t yet issued a ruling.

• In February, DermaQuest settled a suit filed by California’s attorney general over its minimum price agreements.

At the federal level, Democrats are backing legislation to reverse the Leegin decision. The ABA Antitrust Section has urged Congress to keep the Supreme Court decision in place, according to the USA Today story.

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