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United States v. Colgate & Co.

United States Supreme Court
250 U.S. 300 (1919)


Colgate & Company (Colgate) (defendant) is a corporation that manufactures and sells soap and toilet products in the United States. Colgate had a policy of conditioning the sale of products to retailers by urging retailers to resell Colgate’s products at prices established by Colgate. Colgate would send out letters and telegrams to retailers, detailing the requested prices for Colgate’s products. If Colgate found that a retailer was selling Colgate’s products at a lower price, Colgate would place the retailer on a suspended list and refuse to sell more products to the retailer until the retailer made assurances to adhere to Colgate’s pricing policy. The United States (plaintiff) brought a complaint against Colgate, alleging that Colgate’s resale-pricing policy violated the Sherman Act. Specifically, the government argued that the policy was an unlawful combination between Colgate and the retailers to fix prices in the market for soap and toilet products. The district court found in favor of Colgate, and the government sought review from the United States Supreme Court.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (McReynolds, J.)

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