State Oil Co. v. Khan

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State Oil Co. v. Khan
Seal of the United States Supreme Court.svg
Argued October 7, 1997
Decided November 4, 1997
Full case name State Oil Company v. Barkat U. Khan
Citations 522 U.S. 3 (more)
118 S.Ct. 275; 139 L.Ed.2d 199
Prior history Certiorari to the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
Vertical maximum price fixing should be evaluated under the rule of reason, which can effectively identify those situations in which it amounts to anticompetitive conduct.
Court membership
Case opinions
Majority O'Connor, joined by unanimous
Laws applied
Sherman Antitrust Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1
Clayton Antitrust Act, 15 U.S.C. § 15
This case overturned a previous ruling or rulings
Albrecht v. Herald Co. (1968)

State Oil Co. v. Khan, 522 U.S. 3 (1997), was a decision by the United States Supreme Court, which held that vertical maximum price fixing was not inherently unlawful, thereby overruling a previous Supreme Court decision, Albrecht v. Herald Co., 390 U. S. 145 (1968). However, the Court concluded that "[i]n overruling Albrecht, the Court does not hold that all vertical maximum price fixing is per se lawful, but simply that it should be evaluated under the rule of reason, which can effectively identify those situations in which it amounts to anticompetitive conduct."


The 1968 decision in Albrecht v. Herald Co. held that wholesalers could not require franchisees and retailers of their products to sell items at a certain price. Advertisements regarding sales, therefore, always included the language "available at participating retailers only."[1]

The case before the court in 1997 involved a gasoline wholesaler and Chicago service station.[1] State Oil Co. attempted to force the gasoline station owner, Barkat Khan, to sell State Oil's product at certain prices. Khan resisted and filed suit, claiming a violation of anti-trust law.[1]

Khan won his case in the United States Court of Appeals in Chicago, presided over by Judge Richard Posner. Posner, however, mocked the Supreme Court's 1968 ruling on the matter in his decision, calling it "unsound when decided," "moth-eaten," and "increasingly wobbly" in application.[1] Posner nevertheless abided by the Supreme Court's earlier decision, saying that it was the law until the Court overruled it.[1]

During the lower court proceedings and throughout the Supreme Court arguments John Baumgartner of Churchill, Quinn, Richtman & Hamilton, LTD. represented State Oil Co. of Grayslake, Illinois.[2]


Justice Sandra Day O'Connor wrote the unanimous opinion for the Court, overturning the previous case. She wrote that she agreed with Posner: "Chief Judge Posner aptly described Albrecht's infirmities."[1] Although she noted that the Court was cautious in overturning precedents, the "great weight" of scholarly opinion had held that the Court's 1968 decision was incorrect.[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "High Court Approves Retail Price Ceilings". The Los Angeles Times. 1997-11-05. Retrieved 2008-10-17. 
  2. ^

Further reading[edit]

  • Klein, Benjamin (1999). "Distribution Restrictions Operate by Creating Dealer Profits: Explaining the Use of Maximum Resale Price Maintenance in State Oil v. Khan". Supreme Court Economic Review. Supreme Court Economic Review, Vol. 7. 7: 1–58. JSTOR 1147086.