UNITED STATES V. E. I. DU PONT DE NEMOURS & CO., 351 U. S. 377 (1956)

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U.S. Supreme Court

United States v. E. I. du Pont de Nemours & Co., 351 U.S. 377 (1956)

United States v. E. I. du Pont de Nemours & Co.

No. 5

Argued October 11, 1955

Decided June 11, 1956

351 U.S. 377


In a civil action under § 4 of the Sherman Act, the Government charged that appellee had monopolized interstate commerce in cellophane in violation of § 2 of the Act. During the relevant period, appellee produced almost 75% of the cellophane sold in the United States; but cellophane constituted less than 20% of all flexible packaging materials sold in the United States. The trial court found that the relevant market for determining the extent of appellee's market control was the market for flexible packaging materials, and that competition from other materials in that market prevented appellee from possessing monopoly powers in its sales of cellophane. Accordingly, it dismissed the complaint.

Held: the judgment is affirmed. Pp. 351 U. S. 378-404.

(a) The ultimate consideration in determining whether an alleged monopolist violates § 2 of the Sherman Act is whether the defendant controls prices and competition in the market for such part of trade or commerce as he is charged with monopolizing. P. 351 U. S. 380.

(b) A party has monopoly power contrary to § 2 of the Sherman Act if it has, over "any part of the trade or commerce among the several States," a power of controlling prices or unreasonably restricting competition. Pp. 351 U. S. 389-394.

(c) Determination of the competitive market for commodities depends upon how different from one another are the offered commodities in character or use, how far buyers will go to substitute one commodity for another. P. 351 U. S. 393.

(d) It is not a proper interpretation of the Sherman Act to require that products be fungible to be considered in the relevant market. P. 351 U. S. 394.

(e) Where there are market alternatives that buyers may readily use for their purposes, illegal monopoly does not exist merely because the product said to be monopolized differs from others. P. 351 U. S. 394.

(f) In considering what is the relevant market for determining the control of price and competition, no more definite rule can be

Page 351 U. S. 378

declared than that commodities reasonably interchangeable by consumers for the same purposes make up that "part of the trade or commerce" monopolization of which may be illegal. P. 351 U. S. 395.

(g) Cellophane's interchangeability with numerous other materials suffices to make it a part of the market for flexible packaging materials. Pp. 351 U. S. 395-400.

(h) On the record in this case, it cannot be said that the variations in price between cellophane and other flexible packaging materials prevent them from being competitive or gave appellee monopoly power over prices. Pp. 351 U. S. 400-401.

(i) On the record in this case, it cannot be said that appellee has excluded competitors from the flexible packaging material market. Pp. 351 U. S. 402-404.

118 F.Supp. 41 affirmed.

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