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07/09/07

Manufacturers now permitted to fix minimum retail prices


Manufacturers and distributors now have the right to decide minimum retail prices. According to a recent Supreme Court ruling, the 96-year-old antitrust rule that prohibited resale price-maintenance agreements will now hold less significance. Five of the justices, backed by the nation's top manufacturers, said that in certain cases, the new rule will increase competition and improve service. According to the Supreme Court's ruling, judges dealing with possible antitrust violations should apply a case-by-case approach known as "rule of reason" to assess their impact on competition. However, the four dissenting justices concurred with 37 states and some consumer groups that discarding the old rule could culminate in mounting prices and less competition for consumer and other goods.

Retailers to sell EarthLink's DSL/home phone package
Internet service provider EarthLink has geared up to sell municipal Wi-Fi service and a DSL/home phone package through retailers. According to EarthLink, no other company so far has sold municipal Wi-Fi service through retailers. To sell its services, retailers will have to sign up for GetConnected's hosted service, which will allow sellers to check potential subscribers' credit and activate accounts. EarthLink's municipal Wi-Fi service enables users to have in-home as well as mobile broadband access throughout a city, whereas Wi-Fi hot spots only deliver service to specific locations. EarthLink's service currently operates in five cities, and the company is negotiating contracts with 13 other cities.


AMA calls for investigation of retail-based clinics
The American Medical Association (AMA) has raised doubts regarding the functioning of retail-based health clinics run by pharmacy chains and has adopted a resolution to investigate such clinics. The clinics under investigation are being blamed for interfering with the traditional practice of medicine. The AMA has been demanding that state and federal agencies investigate whether pharmacy chain-owned clinics located within stores have the right to insist their patients have prescriptions filled on site. In addition, the AMA wants insurance companies to refrain from waiving or lowering co-payments for patients who get treatment at store-based clinics. According to Michael Howe, CEO of MinuteClinic, a Minneapolis-based chain with about 200 clinics located in 20 states, about 500 retail-based health clinics exist nationwide. CVS Corp. took over MinuteClinic last year.

Phillips Edison & Co. purchases property from Diversified Realty Corp.
Real estate owner and developer Phillips Edison & Co. has finished purchasing 52 shopping centers for $449 million from Beachwood, OH-based Developers Diversified Realty Corp. In the near future, the company is going to buy 11 more properties from Developers Diversified Realty for $154 million. Phillips Edison & Co. will have bought a total of 5.7 million square feet of selling space once the deals have been completed. In a regulatory filing, Developers Diversified Realty Corp. revealed its board's authorization of a large stock buyback program.

Insignia Systems agreement includes retail distribution network
Insignia Systems, Inc., a developer and marketer of in-store advertising and promotions, has entered into an extended strategic alliance agreement with Valassis, a leader in providing marketing services. As a result of the 10-year extension of the agreement, Valassis will assume a leadership role and help Insignia expand and build upon its participating retailer network. Before the extension, both companies were engaged in joint selling efforts targeting consumer-packaged-goods companies. The agreement extension will help both companies collaborate extensively to offer retailer- and consumer-packaged-goods customers with better-integrated marketing solutions and services.
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