The issue of exclusive dealing and its economic impacts has received extensive attention in a number of recent cases, including Australian Competition and Consumer Commission v Universal Music Australia Pty Ltd1, Australian Competition and Consumer Commission v Australian Safeway Stores Pty Limited (No 2)2 and Melway Publishing Pty Ltd v Robert Hicks Pty Ltd.3 Moreover, concern about exclusive dealing remains high on the public policy agenda, and is especially significant in respect of small business.
The economics of exclusive dealing are complex and have been an area of substantial research in recent years. A specific area of analysis has been that of exclusive distribution – that is, situations in which a manufacturer requires dealers to only distribute products bearing its brand, or products that it approves or specifies. Given the prominence of these issues, it seems timely to seek to summarise and set out in more accessible terms the main findings of that research. That is the objective of this paper.