Pat Fuge of Gnome Games in Green Bay, Wisconsin draws our attention to last week's Supreme Court decision, which appears to allow control of retail prices by manufacturers in some circumstances, and asks for game manufacturers to use the ruling to support brick and mortar retailers by controlling heavy discounting by Internet retailers:
In a 5-4 ruling on June 28th the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the manufacturer in LEEGIN v. PSKS, INC. In a nutshell this means that a manufacturer can refuse to sell to retailers that discount below a specified price. This includes Internet discounters, convention discounters and even the big box stores like Wal-Mart (although the latter is almost always selling RPG's & CCG's at full MSRP). Hat's off to the Supreme Court!
Now all we have to do is wait... and watch to see which manufacturers actually support brick and mortar. Those that do will start to deny supplies to those distributors that support the deep discounters by refusing to sell to them and cutting off distribution to distributors that are caught selling to them. Some, like Wizards of the Coast have tools in place to follow product through the distribution chain to see exactly where the leak into the 'gray market' is. I only hope that they have the wisdom to use these tools and remove the supply of products from the deep discounters.
Of course, I fully expect that some manufacturers with not do anything. We will be given the byline -- we can't track it through distribution or we are having our legal teams analyze what we can do. To that -- I have a simple line retort -- if a manufacturer truly supports Brick and Mortar game stores then they will find a way to track it through the supply chain and cut off distributors that deal with the deep Internet discounters. They will also quit selling directly to them unless they are in compliance with pricing guidelines. It's all in the manufacturers' hands now.
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