Our Franchisee Lawyers Represents Only Franchisees And Dealers
Franchisees and dealers are often subjected to franchisors and suppliers’ newly developed and obtrusive marketing and pricing demands, many of which may seem to violate antitrust laws. Most antitrust laws’ general purpose, both at the federal and state levels, is to preserve and promote competition in certain markets. Many times, modern conceptions of fair competition, which focus on increased aggregate consumer welfare as a whole, are at odds with individual franchisees and dealers’ well-being, financial stability, and longevity.
Most franchisees and dealers, as well as some inexperienced franchise attorneys, incorrectly believe that whenever a franchisor or manufacturer establishes a pricing policy or pricing guideline that is mandatory for their franchisees or dealers, antitrust laws are violated. Because of this inaccurate belief, franchisees and dealers have filed and funded many meritless cases. On the other hand, with the advocacy of an experienced franchise attorney, certain distribution policies mandated by franchisors or suppliers could be viewed to injure not only individual franchisees and dealers, but overall competition as well.
Awards For Franchise Or Manufacturer Antitrust Violations Can Be Difficult To Obtain
Despite many franchise lawyers’ suspect claims, large monetary awards for franchise or manufacturer antitrust violations can be difficult to obtain. Almost every antitrust violation requires the defendant to supply a certain type of proof called “market power.” In the franchise or dealer context, this requirement mandates that a franchisor or supplier being charged with an antitrust violation be large enough to dictate or influence prices or other terms of transactions in a relevant market. In almost every case, any one franchisor or franchise system – even a very large one – is still only a small part of an overall relevant market, thereby making its ability to control prices or other terms theoretically impossible under antitrust laws.
For example, McDonald’s “market power” might be very small in any particular market, despite its influential brand name. To illustrate, a relevant market may include ten McDonald’s, twelve Burger Kings, five Hardee’s, four Bob’s Burgers, six Frank’s Dogs & Burgers, fourteen Arby’s, five Elevation Burgers, thirteen Jack in the Box’s, and thirty-one independently owned small burger joints. From this hypothetical, two points are highlighted. First, if McDonald’s were sued for an antitrust violation, the relevant market would not consist only of McDonald’s franchises. Instead, the relevant market for evaluating antitrust violations in the franchise industry will include all of the shops selling similar or substitutable products; in this scenario, all of the burger places. Second, the relevant market may dilute the power of a franchisor or supplier. Here, McDonald’s owns ten of the one hundred burger shops in the relevant area. Thus, McDonald’s possesses merely ten percent of the relevant market, which is far too insignificant to be guilty of any antitrust violation, regardless of how offensive the conduct might look on first blush. In this example, McDonald’s simply does not have sufficient “market power” to influence prices or other terms of transactions in the relevant market, even though the brand name itself is very commanding in other ways. These two principles are at issue in almost every antitrust dispute in the franchise or distribution context.
That being said, franchisees and dealers can nevertheless discover, establish and maintain antitrust violations in many cases. Most frequently, successful antitrust claims in the franchise and distribution realm pivot off of minimum pricing or tying restraints. Minimum pricing claims usually include a dealer or franchisee that has been terminated for cutting prices below those required by the supplier or franchisor. Tying claims normally involve a franchisor or supplier’s conditioning of a sale of the franchise itself upon the purchase of separate products or services that are either not needed by the franchisee or dealer, of relatively poor quality, or marked up to unfairly high supra-competitive prices.
Success Of Goldstein Law Firm Combatting Antitrust Violations
Jeff Goldstein and the franchisee lawyers at Goldstein Law Firm have over thirty years of experience successfully representing only franchisees and dealers in cases involving antitrust violations and other anticompetitive conduct by franchisors and suppliers. Attorney Goldstein’s success in protecting franchisees, dealers, and other small businesses from antitrust and other anticompetitive conduct is distinguished.
Jeff Goldstein, in contrast to ninety-nine percent of other franchise lawyers, represents only franchisees and dealers – not franchisors, suppliers or manufacturers – in cases around the country. This exclusive focus on franchisees and dealers has, in part, allowed Jeff Goldstein and his associates to quickly and accurately find, detect, discover, and investigate anticompetitive conduct of franchisors and dealers. Further, Goldstein Law’s experience and expertise with franchise litigation allows its lawyers to successfully protect their franchisee and dealer clients from the harmful economic damages caused by franchisor and supplier anticompetitive conduct that violates antitrust laws.
What To Do If You Suspect That You Are Being Harmed By An Antitrust Violation Or Other Anticompetitive Conduct By Your Franchisor Or Supplier
As with wrongful franchise terminations and franchise fraud, the law requires that you move quickly to address an antitrust violation. Many times, antitrust conspiracies, or even a franchisor or supplier’s unilateral conduct, are intentionally concealed from observation. Therefore, when businesses finally confirm that they have been victimized, it is too late to sue under the statute of limitation provisions of antitrust statutes. Although the ability of a layperson to comprehend the nuances and details of the vast area of antitrust and unfair trade practices is understandable, the law makes very few exceptions for the late filing of an antitrust complaint.
Accordingly, you should keep in mind that in operating your franchise or dealership, antitrust laws prohibit some forms and types of the following conduct:
- Unilateral Refusals to Deal
- Tying Arrangements
- Minimum Price Fixing
- Customer Restrictions
- Exclusive Territories and Exclusive Distributorships
- Exclusive Dealerships
- Agreements on Terms of Trade
- Full Line Pricing
- Discriminatory Prices or Terms of Sale
- Franchisee and Dealer Terminations
- Predatory Advertising
To effectively stop wrongful anticompetitive conduct by your franchisor or supplier, you should contact Jeff Goldstein at the Goldstein Law Firm at 202-293-3947. Don’t let your franchisor or supplier’s hidden or oppressive anticompetitive agenda destroy your business and personal fortunes.