Antitrust Issues in Distribution Agreements

Antitrust Issues in Distribution Agreements: What You Need to Know

Distribution agreements play a vital role in the business world. These agreements help businesses get their products and services into the hands of customers, while also protecting their brand reputation. However, there are legal considerations that both suppliers and distributors need to be aware of to avoid antitrust violations.

Antitrust laws are designed to protect consumers and promote fair competition in the marketplace. When it comes to distribution agreements, there are a few key antitrust issues that businesses need to be mindful of.

Price Fixing

Price fixing is a serious antitrust violation that occurs when two or more companies agree to set prices at a certain level. This practice harms consumers and limits competition in the marketplace. In distribution agreements, suppliers need to be careful not to dictate prices to their distributors, as this could be seen as price fixing.

Territorial Restrictions

Territorial restrictions are another antitrust issue that can arise in distribution agreements. These types of restrictions limit where a distributor can sell a supplier`s products. While territorial restrictions are not illegal in all cases, they can be problematic. If territorial restrictions are too broad, they can hinder competition and harm consumers.

Exclusive Dealing

Exclusive dealing agreements are contracts in which a supplier agrees to sell its products exclusively to one distributor. These agreements can be beneficial for both the supplier and the distributor, but they can also lead to antitrust violations. If exclusive dealing agreements prevent competitors from entering the marketplace or limit consumer choice, they may be considered illegal.

Tying Arrangements

Tying arrangements occur when a supplier requires a distributor to sell one product in order to sell another product. This practice can be anticompetitive, as it can force distributors to carry a product they may not want or need. Tying arrangements can also limit consumer choice and prevent competitors from entering the marketplace.


Distribution agreements are an essential part of many businesses, but they also come with legal responsibilities. By being aware of antitrust issues in distribution agreements, businesses can avoid costly legal consequences. It is important to work with an experienced attorney when drafting and negotiating distribution agreements to ensure compliance with antitrust laws.