In the decades before World War II, U.S. antitrust law was anything but settled. Considerable pressure for antitrust revision came from the states. A perhaps unlikely leader, Edna Gleason, organized California’s retail pharmacists and coordinated trade networks to monitor and enforce Resale Price Maintenance (RPM) contracts, a system of price-fixing, then known as “fair trade.” Progressive jurists, including Louis Brandeis and institutional economist E. R. A. Seligman, supported RPM as a protection to independent proprietors. The breakdown of legal and economic consensus regarding what constituted “unfair competition” allowed businesspeople to act as intermediaries between heterodox economic thought and contested antitrust law, ultimately tailoring federal policy to accommodate state regulations.
Laura Phillips Sawyer,
California Fair Trade: Antitrust and the Politics of “Fairness” in U.S. Competition Policy
, 90 Bus. Hist. Rev. 31
Available at: https://digitalcommons.law.uga.edu/fac_artchop/1350