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From Antitrust Law Daily, October 30, 2013

Supplier charged with discriminatory pricing prohibited from cutting off complaining purchaser

By Jeffrey May, J.D.

In a price discrimination action, the federal district court in Medford, Oregon, has granted a request from Thermo Pressed Laminates, Inc.—a complaining manufacturer of thermo-fused melamine and laminated panels—for a preliminary injunction requiring a defending producer of saturated melamine paper to continue supplying the product to Thermo pending resolution of the action (Thermo Pressed Laminates, Inc. v. Arclin USA, LLC, October 28, 2013, Panner, O.).

The defending producer was ordered to do business with Thermo consistent with the terms and conditions under which the parties had historically operated. However, it was not required to extend “preferential pricing” to Thermo under the preliminary injunction.

In August, Thermo filed suit against Arclin Surfaces, LLC and Arclin USA, LLC, alleging violations of the Robinson-Patman Act and Section 2 of the Sherman Act. According to the complaint, the defendants hold a monopoly in the market for saturated melamine paper in North America.

Saturated melamine paper is a vital component in the production of thermo-fused melamine and laminated panels. Thermo alleges that, since 2000, it has been charged higher prices for the defendants’ saturated melamine paper than the prices charged to all or most of its competitors.

Shortly after the suit was filed, the defendants decided not to accept any orders for melamine paper from Thermo. In addition, the defendants imposed new conditions on the payment of outstanding orders. In response, Thermo moved for an order requiring the defendants to continue to supply melamine paper at the same prices as those offered to the defendants’ “most favored customers.”

Thermo made a sufficient showing of serious questions going to the merits of the antitrust claims to warrant the issuance of preliminary injunctive relief, the court ruled. Without a preliminary injunction to enforce the status quo, the plaintiff would be forced to cease operations in the near future, the court explained. As a result, the plaintiff would likely suffer irreparable harm if a preliminary injunction was not granted.

Although Thermo would benefit if the defendants were required to extend it preferential pricing, the court refused to grant that portion of the plaintiff’s request. The equities did not tip in the plaintiff’s favor on that issue, it was noted.

This is Case 1:13-cv-01330-CL.

Attorneys: Michael E. Haglund (Haglund Kelly, LLP) for Thermo Pressed Laminates, Inc. Clifford Aronson (Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP) for Arclin USA LLC.

Companies: Arclin USA, LLC; Thermo Pressed Laminates, Inc.

MainStory: TopStory Antitrust OregonNews

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