The National Association of Recording Merchandisers (NARM) has dropped its anti-trust lawsuit against Sony Music Entertainment, Billboard Bulletin reports. The suit, filed Jan. 31, 2000, alleged that

The National Association of Recording Merchandisers (NARM) has dropped its anti-trust lawsuit against Sony Music Entertainment, Billboard Bulletin reports. The suit, filed Jan. 31, 2000, alleged that the bundling of products and services -- in the form of computer software add-ons, hyperlinks to retail sales sites, and "blow-in" promotional inserts -- amounts to unfair competition and constitutes an unlawful "tying" arrangement.

NARM's withdrawal came Friday, its judge-imposed deadline for responding to an amicus brief filed by the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) earlier last month. In its brief, DoJ said the retail group had failed to demonstrate that Sony had violated federal antitrust laws under the Sherman Act and the Robinson-Patman Act.

In a statement Friday, NARM said, "In the nearly two years since the litigation initially was filed, the landscape and the facts surrounding digital distribution of music have changed dramatically. The Board believes that the interests of our retail members will be better addressed by focusing our energies and resources on educating industry executives and government officials about retail concerns relating to digital distribution, copyright law, and antitrust via other channels."

A Sony statement says, "We are pleased that NARM has decided to drop the suit, as we prefer to work with our accounts in dealing with industry issues and expanding our business."

The retail group says it has invited Sony to return to the annual NARM Convention, which the major has shunned since the suit was filed. NARM says Sony has accepted the invitation.