February 20, 2012
Last week, the TTB issued an Industry Circular on the issue of tie-in sales, which are illegal under the Federal Alcohol Administration Act (FAA Act) and 27 C.F.R. § 6.72. Tie-in sales occur when a retailer is forced to purchase a product (which it may or may not want) in order to get the product that it wants. Tie-in sales include combination sales in which one or more products may only be purchased in combination with other products.
In its Circular, available here, the TTB provides a list of examples of prohibited tie-in sales. The examples include:
- A retailer must purchase a certain amount of regular distilled spirits, whether bottled or cased, in order to be allowed to purchase distilled spirits in a special holiday container or packaging.
- A retailer must purchase ten cases of Winery X’s Merlot from a wholesaler in order to purchase ten cases of Winery X’s Chardonnay.
- A retailer must purchase an industry member’s pre-mixed alcohol beverage specialty product (for example, strawberry daiquiri) in order to purchase a certain amount of their regular distilled spirits case goods. In other words, the regular distilled spirits products are not sold separately but only in combination with the specialty product.
- A retailer is required to purchase a two-bottle package containing one each of a winery’s Merlot and Chardonnay in order to get the Merlot. The Merlot is not available for purchase separately.
- A retailer must purchase a slow moving wine in order to purchase a distilled spirit that is in heavy demand. The distilled spirit is not available for purchase separately.
The take-away point is that each alcoholic beverage item needs to be available for purchase separately. It is still permissible to package alcohol products together or with other consumer goods, subject to state and federal restrictions, but the alcohol components should also be available separately. For additional information on the rules applicable to combination packs, contact one of the attorneys at Strike & Techel with any questions.
Imbiblog is published for general informational purposes only and is not intended as legal advice. Copyright © 2012 · All Rights Reserved ·
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