U.S. Supreme Court Today - Term in Review
Reproduced with permission from The United States Law Week, Vol. 76, No. 4 (July 24, 2007) pp. 3035-3036. Copyright 2007 by The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. (800-372-1033)
Antitrust Opinions: No Bright Lines, More Facts. On the antitrust front, Robert M. Langer, head of the antitrust and trade regulation practice group at Wiggin and Dana, Hartford, Conn., submitted that Leegin was the key case of the term, and perhaps the most important since Continental T.V. Inc. v. GTE Sylvania Inc., 433 U.S. 36 (1977). Leegin held that vertical price restraints in the form of resale price maintenance agreements between manufacturers and distributors are not per se illegal under Section 1 of the Sherman Act, but instead should be analyzed under the rule of reason in deciding whether those measures are anticompetitive. In reaching that conclusion, the court overruled Dr. Miles Medical Co. v. John D. Park & Sons Co., 220 U.S. 373 (1911).
Langer, who filed an amicus brief in the case, saw Leegin as being consistent with GTE Sylvania's holding that vertical nonprice restraints are not per se illegal: Both recognize that ‘‘vertical restraints are likely to enhance not inhibit interbrand competition.'' Leegin ‘‘will permit the lower courts to explore those situations where vertical pricing restraints may continue to be problematic, but in so doing, companies that wish to establish minimum pricing requirements for their products can now do so without fear that the per se label will attach to their conduct,'' Langer said. ‘‘Leegin finally brings common sense and rational decisionmaking to an area of the law that has struggled mightily with an economically unsound bright-line test for almost a century.''