State Oil Co. v. Khan

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State Oil Co. v. Khan
Seal of the United States Supreme Court
Argued October 7, 1997
Decided November 4, 1997
Full case nameState Oil Company v. Barkat U. Khan
Citations522 U.S. 3 (more)
118 S. Ct. 275; 139 L. Ed. 2d 199; 1997 U.S. LEXIS 6705
Case history
Prior93 F.3d 1358 (7th Cir. 1996)
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
Chief Justice
William Rehnquist
Associate Justices
John P. Stevens · Sandra Day O'Connor
Antonin Scalia · Anthony Kennedy
David Souter · Clarence Thomas
Ruth Bader Ginsburg · Stephen Breyer
Case opinion
MajorityO'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),[1] 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).[2] 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.[2] Advertisements regarding sales, therefore, always included the language "available at participating retailers only."[3]

The case before the court in 1997 involved a gasoline wholesaler and Chicago service station.[3] 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.[3]

Khan won his case in the United States Court of Appeals in Chicago, presided over by Judge Richard Posner.[4] 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.[3] Posner nevertheless abided by the Supreme Court's earlier decision, saying that it was the law until the Court overruled it.[3]


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][3] 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][3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c State Oil Co. v. Khan, 522 U.S. 3 (1997).  This article incorporates public domain material from this U.S government document.
  2. ^ a b Albrecht v. Herald Co., 390 U.S. 145 (1968).
  3. ^ a b c d e f g "High Court Approves Retail Price Ceilings". The Los Angeles Times. 1997-11-05. Retrieved 2008-10-17.
  4. ^ Khan v. State Oil Co., 93 F.3d 1358 (7th Cir. 1996).

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.

External links[edit]