International Salt Co. v. United States

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International Salt Co. v. United States
Seal of the United States Supreme Court
Argued October 16, 1947
Decided November 10, 1947
Full case nameInternational Salt Company, Incorporated v. United States
Citations332 U.S. 392 (more)
68 S. Ct. 12; 92 L. Ed. 20; 1947 U.S. LEXIS 2979; 75 U.S.P.Q. (BNA) 184
Case history
PriorAppeal from the District Court of the United States for the Southern District of New York
Holding
The Court held that the Sherman Act prohibits as per se violations all tying arrangements in which a product for which a seller has a legal monopoly, such as a patent requires purchasers to buy a product as well for which the seller has no legal monopoly.
Court membership
Chief Justice
Fred M. Vinson
Associate Justices
Hugo Black · Stanley F. Reed
Felix Frankfurter · William O. Douglas
Frank Murphy · Robert H. Jackson
Wiley B. Rutledge · Harold H. Burton
Case opinions
MajorityJackson, joined by Vinson, Douglas, Murphy, Rutledge (in full);
Frankfurter, Reed, Burton (in part)
Concur/dissentFrankfurter, joined by Reed, Burton
Laws applied
Sherman Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1

International Salt Co. v. United States, 332 U.S. 392 (1947),[1] was a case in which the United States Supreme Court held that the Sherman Act prohibits as per se violations all tying arrangements in which a product for which a seller has a legal monopoly, such as a patent, requires purchasers to buy as well a product for which the seller has no legal monopoly.

Background[edit]

The defendant, International Salt Company, had patented machines for processing salt and mixing or injecting it into various foodstuffs. The company required those who leased machines to buy the salt or salt tablets as well, which was processed through the machines from the defendant. The US government brought a case charging the company of an antitrust violation by the tying of its products. The defendant replied to the charges with the contention that the tying arrangement was necessary to control the quality of salt being used in its machines and claimed that salt not meeting certain standards would damage the machines.

Issue[edit]

The Supreme Court was asked to determine whether such an arrangement was a per se violation of the antitrust laws.

Decision[edit]

The Court found a per se violation. It also rejected the defense that the associated product must meet certain standards since competitors must be given the opportunity to meet them. The defense that customers could buy elsewhere if other vendors sold at lower prices was also rejected since the defendant could foreclose the market simply by meeting it.

See also[edit]

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