UNITED STATES V. LOWE'S INC., 371 U. S. 38 (1962)

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U.S. Supreme Court

United States v. Lowe's Inc., 371 U.S. 38 (1962)

United States v. Lowe's Incorporated

No. 42

Argued October 16, 1962

Decided November 5, 1962*

371 U.S. 38


1. Section 1 of the Sherman Act was violated when individual distributors of copyrighted feature motion picture films for television exhibition engaged in block booking such films to television broadcasting stations -- i.e., conditioning the license or sale of the right to exhibit one or more feature films upon acceptance by each station of a package or block of films containing one or more unwanted or inferior films -- even in the absence of any combination or conspiracy between the distributors and any monopolization or attempt to monopolize. Pp. 371 U. S. 39-50, 371 U. S. 52.

2. The fact that, on the records in these cases, each defendant was found to have entered into a comparatively small number of illegal contracts did not make it improper for the District Court to grant injunctive relief. Pp. 371 U. S. 50-51.

3. The block booking engaged in by one of the defendants cannot be justified or excused by its plea of business necessity, since the thrust of the antitrust laws cannot be avoided merely by claiming that the otherwise illegal conduct was compelled by contractual obligations to a third party. Pp. 371 U. S. 51-52.

4. The decrees entered by the District Court should be amended so as to:

(a) Require the defendants to price films individually and offer them on a picture by picture basis. Pp. 371 U. S. 52-54.

(b) Prohibit differentials in price between a film when sold individually and when sold as part of a package, except when such price differentials are justified by relevant and legitimate cost considerations. Pp. 371 U. S. 54-55.

(c) Proscribe "temporary" refusals by a distributor to deal on less than a block basis, except that a distributor may briefly defer licensing or selling to a customer pending the expeditious conclusion

Page 371 U. S. 39

of bona fide negotiations already being conducted with a competing station on a proposal wherein the distributor has simultaneously offered to license or sell films either individually or in a package. P. 371 U. S. 55.

189 F.Supp. 373, judgments vacated and causes remanded.

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