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First Prosecution of Price Fixing Conspiracy Targeting E-Commerce Yields Criminal Fine

Friday, April 10, 2015
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

A former executive of an e-commerce seller of posters, prints and framed art has agreed to plead guilty and pay a $20,000 criminal fine for conspiring to fix the prices of posters sold online, according to the Department of Justice. The plea agreement, which is subject to court approval, also requires the former executive to cooperate with the DOJ’s ongoing antitrust investigation into price fixing in the online wall décor industry.

A DOJ press release states that this represents the Antitrust Division’s first criminal prosecution against a conspiracy specifically targeting e-commerce. The defendant and his co-conspirators were charged with adopting specific pricing algorithms for the sale of certain posters with the goal of coordinating changes to their respective prices and wrote computer code that instructed algorithm-based software to set prices in conformity with this agreement.

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