In this article, I address that broader question. In Part 1I, I summarize the facts and opinions in Volvo, particularly the final section of the majority opinion where the Court observed that Volvo's discrimination was procompetitive. In Part III, I review the growing consensus in antitrust law that the fundamental goal of the antitrust statutes (other than the Robinson-Patman Act) is to promote consumer welfare. Today when most courts say that a practice furthers competition, they mean that it improves consumer welfare-specifically, the welfare of consumers in the relevant market. In Part IV, I use that interpretation of furthering competition to test the Court's view that Volvo's price discrimination was procompetitive. I conclude that the Court was probably correct because it is likely that Volvo's conduct benefited users of trucks. Finally, in Part V, I confront the ultimate question: did Volvo impose new standards for secondary-line liability that would require all future Robinson- Patman Act plaintiffs, not just primary-line plaintiffs, to show probable harm to consumer welfare? I conclude that it did not: while Volvo is not entirely clear, the Court's decision does not appear to jettison any of the basic protectionist features of the Act. Instead, it strengthens the Court's existing, incrementalist approach under which issues of Robinson- Patman Act interpretation are resolved in ways that promote competition and consumer welfare. Where there is an issue of statutory interpretation- as there will be in any case the Court takes the Court is likely to choose the interpretation of the Act that best advances the interests of consumers. Where a plaintiff has brought a completely traditional secondary-line case, however, the Court still appears unwilling to rule that the plaintiff must show harm to market-wide competition.
John B. Kirkwood, The Robinson-Patman Act and Consumer Welfare: Has Volvo Reconciled Them?, 30 SEATTLE U. L. REV. 349 (2006).