Thinking About Just Copying a MAP Policy Template? Think Again.

If you Google “MAP policy template” right now, you’ll find countless real-world minimum advertised price policies that manufacturers and brands have published for their resale partners to see. You’ll also find plenty of examples of ready-made language to help your draft your own MAP policy.

MAP Policy

It can be very tempting to just grab one of these existing policies, copy it more or less word-for-word, and then drop your company’s name and contact info in. Or you might be considering copying and pasting different ready-made sample blurbs from different online MAP policy templates. In either case, without much effort on your part—voila!—your company will have its own MAP policy.

Drafting a MAP policy from scratch seems like such a daunting task, after all, so we know this option is tempting. But don’t do it. There are real risks to copying and pasting an existing MAP policy from the web (or cobbling together your own from a number of MAP policy templates). Let’s discuss a few of them. Then we’ll offer you a much more strategically smart approach to developing your own reseller pricing program.

 

3 Reasons NOT to Copy an Existing MAP Policy Template

 

1. You could miss important clauses and guidelines relevant to your company.

 

Even though MAP policies are often relatively short documents (typically a few pages at most), many are written in the dense language of legalese that’s difficult to read.

Which means you might be tempted to simply skim the policy you plan to use as your company’s MAP policy guide—and not read through it carefully.

Now, let’s say the policy you’re reading—ahem, skimming—is from a manufacturer focused entirely on online sales. They don’t come right out and say it in the document (at least not that you notice), but clearly they sell entirely through e-commerce retailers because their clauses are all about sales web pages and online advertisements, and they don’t have a single reference to how their policy would affect physical retail store owners.

If your company does business with both online and brick-and-mortar retail partners, and you simply copy and paste this MAP policy template, you’ll miss the chance to include in your policy any guidelines or incentives that would relate specifically to resale partners who run physical shops. We’ve seen this happen.

The flipside is also true. If you copy and paste the wrong MAP policy for your company, you could include clauses, consequences, and incentives that aren’t applicable to your business. This could needlessly turn away some would-be resale partners (who don’t like a clause they read in your policy, which wouldn’t apply to your company anyway) or attract the wrong type of retail partners to your brand.

This is why your MAP policy template needs to be drafted specifically for your company, as opposed to cobbled together from other manufacturers’ policies.

 

2. You could be publishing a policy that puts your company in legal jeopardy.

 

Because there is so much confusion about reseller pricing policies—specifically about where the antitrust legal lines are—many policies out there on the web actually contain language that could be deemed both unenforceable and, worse, even illegal attempts at coercion or price fixing.

Some states in the US view certain types of reseller policies as illegal on their face, while others take a more lenient approach. Some types of clauses increase a manufacturer’s chances of being hit with an antitrust suit.

In other words, if you just grab a MAP policy you find online and substitute your own company’s name, there is a decent chance you could be putting your company at increased risk of landing on the wrong side of federal or state antitrust regulators.

Moreover, if you then try enforcing the MAP policy you copied and pasted—without first working with experts in the field to make sure your enforcement policy also stays on the right side of the law—you could be putting your company at even greater legal risk.

This is why we highly recommend you work with antitrust legal counsel or a team of brand protection experts to develop your own reseller pricing program, whether you build that program on MAP or another type of reseller policy. Speaking of which…

 

3. You could be copying and pasting the wrong reseller policy altogether.

 

Although “MAP policy” has become the standard industry term to describe manufacturer guidelines for protecting resale pricing, there are actually several types of reseller policies other than MAP.

Maybe your company is concerned not only with the advertised pricing of your brand’s products but also your retail partners’ actual resale prices of those products. In that case you’ll want an MRP (minimum resale price) policy—which covers both advertised and sales prices.

Maybe your company needs not only a MAP policy to protect advertised prices in a general sense but also an eMAP (electronic minimum advertised price) policy, which goes further and limits how retailers’ can advertise your products in the emails and text messages they send directly to customers and prospects.

In other words, copying and pasting a MAP policy could mean you end up enforcing a set of reseller guidelines that are not even a strategic fit for your company’s goals when it comes to your resale channel.

We hope this convinces you that although developing a MAP policy doesn’t have to be a complex and difficult undertaking, at a minimum it requires thinking through and drafting a policy specific to your company’s goals and needs, and the realities of your resale channel.

 

If you’d like help setting a MAP policy (or other reseller policy) that’s just right for your company, contact us.

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