Manufacturer Discriminates in Price Against a Distributor?

© 2005 Door & Access Systems
Publish Date: Fall 2005
Author: Naomi Angel
Page 76


Current Hot Legal Topics
By Naomi R. Angel, DASMA Legal Counsel

Manufacturer Discriminates in Price Against a Distributor?

In its 2005-2006 term, the U.S. Supreme Court will consider a sensitive antitrust case between a manufacturer and a distributor. The case: a federal appellate court in St. Louis said that manufacturer Volvo Trucks North America discriminated in price against a competing distributor in the sale of heavy duty trucks. The court held that the manufacturer violated the Robinson-Patman Act.

However, an advisory brief filed by the U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission says the appellate decision was wrong. The brief alleges that Volvo’s actions are fairly routine distribution practices. Many manufacturers and distributors are carefully watching this appeal.

Tip: The Supreme Court seldom takes Robinson-Patman Act cases for review. Since the Court has accepted (1) the appeal for argument and (2) the FTC’s brief, it seems likely that appellate decision will be overturned. Stay tuned.

Who Will Sabotage Your Office Computer?

A recent study by the Department of Homeland Security drew a picture of employees who are most likely to sabotage your company’s computer(s). The most likely: disgruntled workers or former workers angry about disciplinary issues, terminations, or being passed over for promotions.

These saboteurs often have technical skills or work in the IT area. Such behavior is often prefaced by employment problems, including absences, late arrivals or early departures, lower work performance, and anger with other workers.

Tip: Garage door dealers are well advised to be aware of employees who have computer access. Be alert to potential sabotage problems, and take steps to prevent them, such as performing automatic daily backups of critical files. Failure to do so can be costly.

Businesses Fined $500,000 for Using Pirated Software

Seven businesses in the Chicago area recently settled software piracy claims with the Business Software Alliance (BSA) for a collective total of $585,000 in fines. The settlements resulted from the use of unauthorized copies of copyrighted software on office computers.

BSA is the voice of the world’s commercial software industry, and its membership includes many of the best-known software companies in the world. It is serious about going after the use of unauthorized software. BSA periodically comes though U.S. cities encouraging company employees to tattle on the use of pirated software.

Tip: Employers should publicize and enforce a policy that prohibits employees from using unauthorized software on employer-owned computers. Randomly inspect the software on your computers to ensure that you comply with your policy. Check out the BSA’s anti-piracy forms at

Secondhand Sexual Harassment?

The California Supreme Court unanimously ruled that employees can sue for sexual harassment even if they are not the recipients of unwanted sexual advances. The decision reversed two lower court decisions.

The case: an employee alleged that her supervisor’s sexual relationship with other employees created a hostile work environment by showing sexual favoritism for those who went along with the supervisor.

Tip: If you engage in a sexual liaison with an employee, your chances of getting sued for sexual harassment just increased dramatically. Don’t do it. California’s decision will likely encourage many more such lawsuits.

Chicago Bans Use of Hand-Held Cell Phones While Driving

Add Chicago to the growing list of state and local jurisdictions banning the use of hand-held cell phones while driving. Violators face an initial fine of $50, and $200 if the violator is in an accident while using a hand-held cell phone. Calls to 9-1-1 are allowed. The measure passed May 11, 2005.

Tip: Studies have not found any statistical difference in the accident rate for drivers using hand-held cell phones compared to hands-free cell phones. However, some jurisdictions are ignoring the studies. Wherever you drive, drive safely. If you drive in Chicago, D.C., New York City, or wherever such bans are in place, be aware of the penalties.

This article is provided solely for informational purposes and does not constitute legal advice. If you have specific questions or concerns about a legal issue, consult your company’s legal counsel for guidance.