The John M. Olin Center

Paper Abstract

860. Louis Kaplow, The Meaning of Vertical Agreement and the Structure of Competition Law, 05/2016; forthcoming in Antitrust Law Journal (2016).

Abstract: Competition law's vertical agreement requirement is widely regarded to be perplexing and to offer a fairly limited unilateral action defense. These views prove to be understated. The underlying distinction is incoherent on a number of levels and difficult to reconcile with pertinent statutes, precedent, and practice. The requirement has little nexus with competition policy, and its satisfaction may even be associated with less, not more, anticompetitive danger. Furthermore, reflection on the thinness or nonexistence of the vertical agreement requirement renders problematic a central feature of competition law: the aim to subject myriad everyday actions of countless firms to more lenient scrutiny than that applicable to agreements, which on reflection are ever-present.

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