The Federal Trade Commission today announced the agendas for the first two in a series of public workshops it is holding on resale price maintenance (RPM). The agendas, which are posted on the Commission’s Web page at http://www.ftc.gov/opp/workshops/rpm/agendap1.pdf and http://www.ftc.gov/opp/workshops/rpm/agendap2.pdf, outline the schedule for the two events, which will be held in Washington, DC, on February 17 and 19, 2009, and will focus on the economic benefits and harms of RPM.
Last October, the FTC announced it would hold a series of public workshops in early 2009 to examine, for the purposes of enforcing Section 1 of the Sherman Act and Section 5 of the FTC Act, how to best distinguish between uses of RPM that benefit consumers and those that do not.
RPM typically involves an agreement between a manufacturer and retailer setting the prices at which the retailer will resell the manufacturer’s goods to consumers. If the agreement requires the retailer to sell the goods only at or above prices established by the manufacturer, it is said to be minimum RPM. On the other hand, if the agreement requires the retailer to sell the products only at or below the price established by the manufacturer, it is said to be maximum RPM. Among other things, the workshops will examine when and where particular market facts or conditions make it more or less likely that the use of RPM will be procompetitive or neutral, and when or whether such RPM may harm competition and consumers.
The February 17 workshop will focus on Theories of Economic Benefits. It will begin at 10 am, with welcoming remarks by FTC Commissioner Pamela Jones Harbour, followed by a panelist presentation on various economic theories supporting claims that the use of RPM enhances competition and benefits consumers. The panel will be moderated by Daniel P. O’Brien, an economist in the Commission’s Bureau of Economics, and will be followed by a moderated discussion between the panelists and discussants, members of academia, industry representatives, and the public.
The February 19 workshop will focus on Theories of Economic Harms. It also will begin at 10 am, and will explore the various economic theories supporting claims that the use of RPM harms competition and consumers. Daniel P. O’Brien also will moderate this panel, which again will be followed by a discussion of the issue by members of academia and industry with the panelists. Both workshop sessions provide time for members of the public to ask questions.
The FTC’s resale price maintenance workshop is free and open to the public. Pre-registration is helpful but not required. All attendees must present a valid photo ID for admission to the agency’s Headquarters building, which is located at 600 Pennsylvania Ave, NW. To pre-register, please send your name, affiliation, and contact information to RPMworkshop@ftc.gov. The hearings will be accessible to people with disabilities. Anyone needing a related accommodation should contact Carrie McGlothlin at the FTC at 202-326-3388 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Such requests should include a detailed description of the accommodations needed and contact information if more information is needed. Please provide advance notice of accommodation needs.
The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish, visit the FTC’s online Complaint Assistant or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). The FTC enters complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 1,500 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad. The FTC’s Web site provides free information on a variety of consumer topics.