Antitrust and Trade Regulation

When the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890 was enacted, Gray Plant Mooty had been inexistence for 24 years and was there to counsel clients on this “emerging” area of the law. More than a century later, competition laws continue to emerge and evolve —and our Antitrust & Trade Regulation team continues to counsel franchisors and manufacturers in this critical area of the law throughout the United States and internationally.

We help our clients avoid antitrust liability in a variety of ways, including conducting compliance reviews and employee training. First and foremost, we work with clients to ensure that they avoid collusion with competitors. Collusion is “go to jail” serious, so we tailor advise to protect our manufacturing and franchisor clients, while acknowledging their desire to participate in trade association activity, collaboration, and joint ventures when appropriate. We provide counseling and assistance with resale pricing controls (including MAP policies), exclusive dealing restrictions, pricing to dealers and franchisees, termination, and other issues that arise when dealing with distributors, dealers, franchisees and independent sales representatives.


Representative Matters

Below is a representative sample of antitrust cases litigated by GPM:

  • J & M Distributing, Inc. v. Hearth and Home Technologies LLC  (D. Minn. and N.D. W.Va. 2012-15): Won jury verdict for defense after nine-day trial in federal court on claims of conspiracy to restrain trade; earlier obtained dismissal of price discrimination claims by summary judgment.
  • Dunkin’ Donuts Franchising LLC, et al. v. Sai Food & Hospitality, LLC, et al. (E.D. Mo. 2011): Defended  antitrust based counterclaims in franchise termination action.
  • Markel Distributing, Inc. v. Red Wing Brands of America, Inc. (Missouri 2010): Defended shoe manufacturer against conspiracy claims under Missouri antitrust law.
  • Shred-it America, Inc., et al. v. Edward MacNaughton, SIH, LLC, Access Information Management of Hawaii, LLC, et al. (D. Hawaii 2010): Represented franchisor and affiliates in restraint of trade and monopolization claims against competitor after acquisition.
  • Dairy Queen Operators Association, et al. v. International Dairy Queen, Inc., et al. (three arbitrations): Defense of two arbitration claims involving breach of contract, 2003-04 (arbitrated in Minneapolis, Minnesota) and 2005-06 (arbitrated in Denver, Colorado); defense of arbitration involving antitrust claims, 2006-08 (arbitrated in Denver).
  • Krist Oil Company, Inc. v. Bernick’s Pepsi-Cola of Duluth, Inc. (W.D. Wisc.): Defended beverage supplier in antitrust challenge to pricing and promotions practices.
  • In re Vitamins Antitrust Litigation (Minn.): Represented defendant in multiple class actions brought in state and federal court alleging international price-fixing conspiracy.
  • Collins, et al. v. International Dairy Queen, Inc. and American Dairy Queen Corp. (M.D. Ga.; 11th Cir.): Defended franchisor against tying and monopolization claims brought by class of franchisees challenging franchisor’s control of products supplied to franchise system.
  • Lovett, et al. v. General Motors Corp., et al. (D. Minn.; 8th Cir.): Defense against Sherman Act Section 1 claims by dealer alleging horizontal price-fixing conspiracy joined by manufacturer.
  • In re Clozaril Antitrust Litigation (N.D. Ill; S.D.N.Y.; J.P.M.L.; FTC) (represented defendant in unreasonable restraint and monopolization claims brought by two nationwide classes, attorneys general of 34 states, and separate action by Federal Trade Commission)