An antitrust complaint made against US drinks distributors Southern Glazer’s Wine and Spirits and Republic National Distributing Company (RNDC) will advance to court.

The move comes after a federal judge ruled yesterday (30 May) that the complaint, filed by US online alcohol wholesaler Provi, was sufficient for further investigation.

Provi – a business-to-business online alcohol marketplace – submitted a lawsuit against Southern Glazer’s and RNDC in March 2022 to the US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois Eastern Division.

The wholesaler claimed the two parties had made “unlawful efforts” to violate competition regulations, according to a statement.

It accused both groups of having worked to “maintain or enhance their respective monopoly power” in online alcoholic drinks markets, with regard to “search and display advertising on online alcohol marketplaces, and data analytics services” in “certain states”.

Southern Glazer’s and RNDC were also accused of “blocking and rejecting” wine and spirits orders customers who decided to “communicate through Provi”, as as “conspiring to boycott” the company “by forcing or coercing retailers” not to use it.

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Claims were also brought up against Southern specifically, that said the group allegedly forced retailers “to use its own e-commerce marketplace by requiring all online sales to come through its own online marketplace”.

Maldonado added that Southern Glazer’s and RNDC’s actions demanded further investigation given their actions were likely “not limited to Provi alone”.

Responding to the news in a statement, Provi’s founder and CEO, Taylor Katzman said: “Today’s definitive decision allows our case to move forward.

“The tactics regularly and often openly used by Southern and RNDC stifle competition in the markets we identified and harm everyone from producers to retailers and consumers.

“The case is important for the industry’s future, as it necessarily transitions to digital solutions. We look forward to our case proceeding and obtaining valuable relief for Provi and the industry more broadly.”

Commenting on the decision, a Southern Glazer’s spokesperson told Just Drinks: “We respectfully disagree with the Court’s ruling. We believe this lawsuit’s claims are baseless and we will continue to vigorously defend the company against these allegations.”

Southern Glazer’s has been the subject of multiple antitrust cases recently. In 2023, reports from Politico suggested the US Federal Trade Commission had opened an investigation into the Miami-based distributor over a violation of price discrimination laws.

Just Drinks has also reached out to RNDC for comment.