Antitrust Risks in E-Commerce Pricing and Distribution

Avoiding RPM, MFN and IMAP Pitfalls With Online Sales

Recording of a 90-minute CLE webinar with Q&A

Conducted on Tuesday, March 24, 2015
Recorded event now available

This CLE webinar will examine the government’s current enforcement activity regarding the pricing and distribution practices of retailers, distributors and manufacturers engaged in e-commerce, as well as recent private litigation. The panel will outline best practices for identifying unlawful vertical restraints and minimizing antitrust liability exposure.


With online sales now commonplace, counsel for retailers, distributors and manufacturers must be aware of the increased federal scrutiny of e-commerce pricing and distribution practices and take steps to ensure their clients are in compliance with all relevant antitrust laws.

Internet efficiencies allow consumers to quickly compare prices, making resale price maintenance (RPM) protections that limit the supplier/manufacturer’s ability to control prices a key concern for regulators. Whether RPM practices are deemed illegal under U.S. law is a critical question, and is further complicated by the potential international implications of such practices.

The use of most-favored-nation (MFN) clauses in e-commerce is also a hot topic among antitrust regulators. Moreover, Internet distribution raises thorny questions about potential price discrimination between Internet and brick and mortar distributors under the Robinson-Patman Act.

Structuring policies that address Internet minimum advertised price (IMAP) restrictions on the Internet is no easy task. For example, distinguishing between an advertised price and a selling price can be very tricky.

Listen as our panel of experienced antitrust attorneys provides guidance on RPM, MFN, IMAP, Robinson-Patman, and other key antitrust considerations for businesses engaged in online sales, pricing and distribution. The panel will discuss best practices for companies to minimize antitrust liability in e-commerce business practices.


  1. RPM concerns
  2. MFN developments
  3. IMAP restrictions
  4. Robinson-Patman and other traditional distribution considerations
  5. Best practices for avoiding antitrust violations


The panel will review these and other key questions:

  • What are the challenges for online sellers in distinguishing between advertised prices and selling prices?
  • What is the e-commerce impact of the different state law approaches to the issue of whether minimum RPMs are illegal per se?
  • What steps can companies take to minimize antitrust exposure stemming from Internet distribution?


Amanda Norris Ames, Esq.
Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice, Washington, D.C.

Ms. Ames focuses her practice on antitrust law, financial services litigation, and complex civil litigation. She counsels clients with antitrust and distribution issues, including developing strategies for avoiding antitrust and distribution problems, navigating antitrust issues in M&A, and complying with state and federal antitrust, franchise, and distribution laws.

James F. Herbison, Partner
Winston & Strawn, Chicago

Mr. Herbison concentrates his practice on complex commercial litigation with an emphasis on civil and criminal antitrust matters. He has represented clients in matters ranging from price fixing and merger enforcement to antitrust issues related to patents. Mr. Herbison has also represented trade associations and assisted in ensuring their compliance with antitrust laws.

Jason C. Hicks, Partner
Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice, Washington, D.C.

Mr. Hicks has experience litigating cases and counseling clients in a wide variety of matters involving federal and state antitrust laws, franchise and dealer protection statutes, unfair and deceptive trade practices, advertising laws and regulations, industry specific trade regulations, contract disputes, business torts, and constitutional law.


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Antitrust Law Advisory Board

Clifford H. Aronson


Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom

W. Joseph Bruckner


Lockridge Grindal Nauen

Gregory J. Casas


Greenberg Traurig

David B. Goroff


Foley & Lardner

Allen P. Grunes

Co-Founder and Attorney

The Konkurrenz Group

Robert N. Kaplan


Kaplan Fox & Kilsheimer

Christopher J. Kelly


Mayer Brown

James J. Long


Briggs and Morgan

Milton Marquis


Cozen O'Connor

Janet L. McDavid


Hogan Lovells

Kevin D. McDonald


Jones Day

Daniel F. McInnis


Thompson Hine

Saul P. Morgenstern


Kaye Scholer

Douglas Rosenthal


Constantine | Cannon

M. Sean Royall


Gibson Dunn & Crutcher

Joseph J. Tabacco, Jr.


Berman DeValerio

Douglas M. Tween



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