Legal Question in Business Law in Illinois

I'm a small office furniture dealer in Chicago. We represent many open, meaning that any furniture dealer can handle the line, commercial furniture lines. There is a major project bid out that requests a particular product. this product is considered "Open," but we have never dealt with this line. Knowing it is an "Open" line, we contacted the representative to receive pricing. The rep refused to provide prices for this project, but said I can become a dealer . . .just not for this project. Isn't that Restraint of Trade?

Asked on 4/21/10, 8:37 am

1 Answer from Attorneys

David K. Staub Staub Anderson LLC

Probably not. Generally, any business can choose who it wants to sell to.

There are exceptions, but they are relatively narrow. For example, if the seller has market power, there may be limits on its refusal to deal. Or, if it is in collusion with competitors, the action may violate antitrust laws.

Whether refusal to sell you the product in this instance is illegal depends on a lot more facts than you have here. "Restraints in the supply chain are tested for their reasonableness, by analyzing the market in detail and balancing any harmful competitive effects against offsetting benefits." (FTC Bureau of Competition website)

For that kind of detailed analysis, you would need to hire an attorney familiar the case law in the area. He would have to get familiar with your industry as well as the specific facts of your situation. There is no shortcut.

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Answered on 4/27/10, 3:55 pm

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