In Illinois Brick v. Illinois Co., the Supreme Court held that, under federal antitrust law, only direct purchasers have standing to sue antitrust violators for damages. Since most products travel through one or more intermediaries before reaching consumers, this decision left most true victims of illegal cartels and other antitrust violations without a remedy to compensate them. Illinois Brick Co. also had the effect of undermining the objective of optimal deterrence of antitrust violations-because direct purchasers often have a suboptimal incentive to sue, the Court's decision often allows violators to escape paying significant damages. For this reason firms are insufficiently deterred from committing future violations.
New Options for State Indirect Purchaser Legislation: Protecting the Real Victims of Antitrust Violations, 61 Ala. L. Rev. 447 (2010)