Price Discounting and Antitrust Liability

Staying Competitive Within Robinson–Patman's Discrimination Restrictions

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

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Conducted on Thursday, May 22, 2008

Course Materials


Businesses involved in the purchase or sale of tangible goods — manufacturers, suppliers, wholesalers, and importers — face Robinson–Patman Act (R–P) price discrimination issues.

Companies are under intense pressure to take care of their biggest customers and to take advantage of economies of scale. This creates a strong incentive for businesses to offer their largest customer the lowest prices, which can lead to charges of price discrimination under Robinson–Patman.

To stay within the boundaries of R–P and avoid related antitrust liability, companies and their counsel must have a thorough understanding of R–P requirements and prohibitions — and the potential price discrimination traps they face.

Listen as our panel of antitrust law specialists examines the elements of price discrimination and discusses practical ways for a company to offer legal pricing discounts under R–P.



  1. Brief overview
    1. What is price discrimination?
    2. Elements of a R–P § 2(a) violation
    3. When is price discrimination feasible?
  2. Price discrimination under R–P
    1. Seller liability under the R–P
    2. Buyer liability under the R–P
  3. Promotional allowances
    1. § 2(d)
    2. § 2(e)
  4. Defenses and Liability
    1. Defenses to price discrimination violation
    2. Proving competitive injury
    3. Proving damages
  5. Best practices for discounting under R–P
    1. Maximizing pricing flexibility
    2. Defensible price differences


The panel reviewed these and other key questions: 

  • What are the typical price discrimination issues that arise for buyers and sellers under the Robinson–Patman Act?
  • What are the defenses available to companies when price discrimination violations are alleged by the government or by competitors?
  • What are the best practices for companies to utilize legal price discounting that doesn't violate Robinson–Patman?


Mark S. Ostrau
Mark S. Ostrau

Fenwick & West

He co-chairs the Antitrust and Unfair Competition Group and represents clients before antitrust agencies in connection...  |  Read More

Reginald D. Steer
Reginald D. Steer
Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld

He handles cases involving claims of antitrust violations, fraudulent business practices, securities violations, and...  |  Read More

Deborah Salzberger
Deborah Salzberger
Stikeman Elliott

She advises clients with respect to competition and antitrust issues and regulatory filing requirements in the context...  |  Read More

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