FTC to Dr. Miles: “I Wish I Knew How to Quit You!”

In April 2000, the FTC issued a Complaint against women’s shoe distributor Nine West, claiming that Nine West had engaged in minimum resale price maintenance (RPM) (i.e., the setting of minimum prices that retailers could charge for its shoes). Apparently, Nine West was providing retailers with lists of “off limits” or “non-promote” shoes that weren’t to be promoted except during defined periods. Because Nine West sought acquiescence in those policies by threatening to terminate offending dealers, the FTC maintained that it had engaged in a minimum RPM agreement. At that time, such agreements were deemed to be per se unreasonable–and thus automatically illegal–restraints of trade. Nine West ultimately agreed to a broadly worded Consent Order requiring it to refrain from (among other things) fixing prices at which its retailers may sell, advertise, or promote its products; “otherwise pressuring” its dealers to adhere to resale prices; and “[s]ecuring or attempting to secure any commitment or assurance from any dealer concerning the resale price at which the dealer may advertise, promote, offer for sale or sell any Nine West Products.”

Read the full piece here.