In Fresh N’ Pure Distributors, Inc. v. Foremost Farms USA (E.D. Wis. No. 2:11-cv-00470-AEG) (Nov. 28, 2011), a distributor’s supplier was purchased by a competitor of the distributor. Later, the new owner refused to sell its products to the distributor. The distributor sued. The district court dismissed the distributor’s Robinson-Patman Act claim. A refusal to deal, the court held, “generally does not violate the Robison-Patman Act because one who unsuccessfully seeks to purchase a commodity cannot be a ‘purchaser’ within the meaning of the Act.” The plaintiff managed to save its breach of contract claims by their whiskers.
Moral of the story: claims under the Robinson-Patman Act require two or more actual sales, and a discrimination in price. Refusals to deal don’t count.