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Spectrum Sports, Inc. v. McQuillan

United States Supreme Court
506 U.S. 447 (1993)


Shirley and Larry McQuillan (plaintiffs) manufactured equestrian products. One of the McQuillans’ products was a horseshoe pad. The horseshoe pad required an elastic polymer called sorbothane. BTR, Inc. (BTR) owned the patent rights to sorbothane. BTR sold sorbothane through Hamilton-Kent Manufacturing Company and Sorbothane, Inc. (sorbothane producers) (defendants). In 1980, the McQuillans entered an agreement with the sorbothane producers to be the exclusive purchasers of sorbothane for equestrian products. In 1981, the McQuillans also became one of five regional distributors of all sorbothane products. The McQuillans’ distributorship included equestrian, medical, and athletic products. However, in 1982, the sorbothane producers threatened to take away the McQuillans’ equestrian distributorship unless the McQuillans agreed to give up the athletic distributorship. The McQuillans refused. In 1983, the sorbothane producers stopped selling sorbothane to the McQuillans. The sorbothane producers began to sell their own sorbothane horseshoe. The sorbothane producers also gave the McQuillans’ athletic distributorship to Spectrum Sports, Inc. (Spectrum) (defendant). Unable to obtain sorbothane, the McQuillans went out of business. The McQuillans sued the sorbothane producers and Spectrum, alleging attempted monopolization in violation of § 2 of the Sherman Act. The jury returned a verdict in favor of the McQuillans. The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed the judgment, holding an attempted monopolization claim does not require establishing a market definition. If the plaintiff proves anticompetitive or predatory conduct, that is sufficient to establish a violation of § 2 of the Sherman Act. Spectrum and the sorbothane producers appealed.

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