Online RPM and MFN Under Antitrust Law and Economics

32 Pages Posted: 18 Oct 2016 Last revised: 4 Jan 2017

See all articles by Pinar Akman

Pinar Akman

School of Law, University of Leeds

D. Daniel Sokol

USC Gould School of Law; USC Marshall School of Business

Date Written: December 1, 2016


Depending on the legal framing, behavior that might in some circumstances resemble online resale price maintenance (RPM) agreements in other circumstances may instead resemble online most favored nation (MFN) agreements. Together, the cases that involve online RPM and MFN can be viewed as a natural experiment of how antitrust economics and law can adapt to an online world. Thus far, enforcement across jurisdictions has been based on economic theories that do not always match up with legal doctrine. Doctrinal confusion can thwart business practices that may be efficient.

This paper makes a number of contributions. We distinguish issues of online RPM from traditional RPM and online RPM from online MFN. Then, we apply the economic learning on RPM and analyze the antitrust cases of online RPM and MFN to date across the United States, Europe and Australia. The last part of this paper offers policy recommendations that reduce the confusion in current legal doctrine.

Keywords: resale price maintenance, most favored nation, RPM, MFN, antitrust, competition law, economics

JEL Classification: K21, L42, L11

Suggested Citation

Akman, Pinar and Sokol, D. Daniel, Online RPM and MFN Under Antitrust Law and Economics (December 1, 2016). Review of Industrial Organization, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: or

Pinar Akman

School of Law, University of Leeds ( email )

Leeds, LS2 9JT
United Kingdom

D. Daniel Sokol (Contact Author)

USC Gould School of Law ( email )

699 Exposition Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90089
United States

USC Marshall School of Business ( email )

701 Exposition Blvd
Los Angeles, CA California 90089
United States

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