United States v. Colgate Co, No. 828

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtMcREYNOLDS
Citation250 U.S. 300,7 A. L. R. 443,63 L.Ed. 992,39 S.Ct. 465
Decision Date02 June 1919
Docket NumberNo. 828
PartiesUNITED STATES v. COLGATE & CO

250 U.S. 300
39 S.Ct. 465
63 L.Ed. 992
UNITED STATES

v.

COLGATE & CO.

No. 828.
Argued March 10, 1919.
Decided June 2, 1919.

Page 301

Mr. G. Carroll Todd, Asst. Atty. Gen., for the United States.

Mr. Charles E. Hughes, of New York City, for defendant in error.

Mr. Justice McREYNOLDS delivered the opinion of the Court.

Writs of error from Districts Courts directly here may be taken by the United States 'from a decision or judgment quashing, setting aside, or sustaining a demurrer to, any indictment, or any count thereof, where such decision or judgment is based upon the invalidity, or construction of the statute upon which the indictment is founded.' Act March 2, 1907, c. 2564, 34 Stat. 1246 (Comp. St. § 1704). Upon such a writ 'we have no authority to revise the mere interpretation of an indictment and are confined to ascertaining whether the court in a case under review erroneously construed the statute.' 'We must accept that court's interpretation of the indictments and confine our review to the question of the construction of the statute involved in its

Page 302

decision.' United States v. Carter, 231 U. S. 492, 493, 34 Sup. Ct. 173, 174 (58 L. Ed. 330); United States v. Miller, 223 U. S. 599, 602, 32 Sup. Ct. 323, 324 (56 L. Ed. 568).

Being of opinion that 'the indictment should set forth such a state of facts as to make it clear that a manufacturer, engaged in what was believed to be the lawful conduct of its business, has violated some known law before it can be haled into court to answer the charge of a commission of a crime,' and holding that it 'fails to charge any offense under the Sherman Act [Act July 2, 1890, c. 647, 26 Stat. 209) or any other law of the United States, that is to say, as to the substance of the indictment and the conduct and act charged therein,' the trial court sustained a demurrer to the one before us. Its reasoning and conclusions are set out in a written opinion. 253 Fed. 522.

We are confronted by an uncertain interpretation of an indictment itself couched in rather vague and general language. Counsel differ radically concerning the meaning of the opinion below and there is much room for the controversy between them.

The indictment runs only against Colgate & Co., a corporation engaged in manufacturing soap and toilet articles and selling them throughout the Union. It makes no reference to monopoly, and proceeds solely upon the theory of an unlawful combination. After setting out defendant's organization, place and character of business, and general methods of selling and distributing products through wholesale and retail merchants, it alleges:

'During the aforesaid period of time, within the said Eastern district of Virginia and throughout the United States, the defendant knowingly and unlawfully created and engaged in a combination with said wholesale and retail dealers, in the Eastern district of Virginia and throughout the United States, for the purpose and with the effect of procuring adherence on the part of such dealers (in reselling such products sold to them aforesaid) to resale prices fixed by the defendant, and of preventing

Page 303

such dealers from reselling such products at lower prices, thus suppressing competition amongst such wholesale dealers, and amongst such retail dealers, in restraint of the aforesaid trade and commerce among the several States, in violation of the act entitled 'An act to protect trade and commerce against unlawful restraints and monopolies,' approved July 2, 1890.'

Following this is a summary of things done to carry out the purposes of the combination: Distribution among dealers of letters, telegrams, circulars and lists showing uniform prices to be charged; urging them to adhere to such prices and notices, stating that no sales would be made to those who did not; requests, often complied with, for information concerning dealers who had departed from specified prices; investigation and discovery of those not adhering thereto and placing their names upon 'suspended lists;' requests to offending dealers for assurances and promises of future adherence to prices, which were often given; uniform refusals to sell to any who failed to give the same; sales to those who did; similar assurances and promises required of, and given by, other dealers followed by sales to them; unrestricted sales to dealers with established accounts who had observed specified prices, etc.

Immediately thereafter comes this paragraph:

'By reason of the foregoing, wholesale dealers in the...

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820 practice notes
  • Knutson v. Daily Review, Inc., No. C-73-1354-CBR.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Northern District of California
    • September 23, 1974
    ...followed by a simple refusal to deal with those who disregarded that policy, conduct which is lawful under United States v. Colgate & Co., 250 U.S. 300, 39 S.Ct. 465, 63 L.Ed. 992 (1919). The Court "In thus involving the wholesalers to stop the flow of Parke Davis products to the retailers,......
  • Greensboro Lumber Co. v. Georgia Power Co., Civ. A. No. C84-2022A.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. Northern District of Georgia
    • August 29, 1986
    ...Power's unilateral refusal to deal does not constitute a violation of the federal antitrust laws. See United States v. Colgate & Co., 250 U.S. 300, 39 S.Ct. 465, 63 L.Ed.2d 992 (1919). But cf. Six Twenty-Nine Productions, Inc. v. Rollins Telecasting, Inc., 365 F.2d 478 (5th Cir.1966) (monop......
  • New York Citizens Committee On Cable TV v. Manhattan Cable TV, Inc., No. 86 Civ. 0859 (RWS).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • December 18, 1986
    ..."willful acquisition or maintenance" so long as MCTV has "purpose to create or maintain a monopoly," United States v. Colgate & Co., 250 U.S. 300, 307, 39 S.Ct. 465, 468, 63 L.Ed. 992 (1919). Nevertheless, they challenge the Committee's allegations 651 F. Supp. 807 of monopoly power in a re......
  • Rxusa Wholesale, Inc. v. Alcon Laboratories, Inc., No. 06-CV-3447 (DRH)(AKT).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of New York)
    • September 24, 2009
    ...freely to exercise his own independent discretion as to parties with whom he will deal.'") (quoting United States v. Colgate & Co., 250 U.S. 300, 307, 39 S.Ct. 465, 63 L.Ed. 992 (1919). "Observing that it has been `very cautious' in creating exceptions to the right to refuse to deal, the Tr......
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797 cases
  • Knutson v. Daily Review, Inc., No. C-73-1354-CBR.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Northern District of California
    • September 23, 1974
    ...followed by a simple refusal to deal with those who disregarded that policy, conduct which is lawful under United States v. Colgate & Co., 250 U.S. 300, 39 S.Ct. 465, 63 L.Ed. 992 (1919). The Court "In thus involving the wholesalers to stop the flow of Parke Davis products to the retailers,......
  • Greensboro Lumber Co. v. Georgia Power Co., Civ. A. No. C84-2022A.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. Northern District of Georgia
    • August 29, 1986
    ...Power's unilateral refusal to deal does not constitute a violation of the federal antitrust laws. See United States v. Colgate & Co., 250 U.S. 300, 39 S.Ct. 465, 63 L.Ed.2d 992 (1919). But cf. Six Twenty-Nine Productions, Inc. v. Rollins Telecasting, Inc., 365 F.2d 478 (5th Cir.1966) (monop......
  • New York Citizens Committee On Cable TV v. Manhattan Cable TV, Inc., No. 86 Civ. 0859 (RWS).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • December 18, 1986
    ..."willful acquisition or maintenance" so long as MCTV has "purpose to create or maintain a monopoly," United States v. Colgate & Co., 250 U.S. 300, 307, 39 S.Ct. 465, 468, 63 L.Ed. 992 (1919). Nevertheless, they challenge the Committee's allegations 651 F. Supp. 807 of monopoly power in a re......
  • Rxusa Wholesale, Inc. v. Alcon Laboratories, Inc., No. 06-CV-3447 (DRH)(AKT).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of New York)
    • September 24, 2009
    ...freely to exercise his own independent discretion as to parties with whom he will deal.'") (quoting United States v. Colgate & Co., 250 U.S. 300, 307, 39 S.Ct. 465, 63 L.Ed. 992 (1919). "Observing that it has been `very cautious' in creating exceptions to the right to refuse to deal, the Tr......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
29 books & journal articles
  • United States Law and the Proposed Code of Conduct on the Transfer of Technology
    • United States
    • Antitrust Bulletin Nbr. 23-4, December 1978
    • December 1, 1978
    ...the mere unilateral refusalof the patentee to disclose new technology to a licensee is notunlawful. Ct. United States v. Colgate &Co., 250 U.S. 300,307(1919)(resale price maintenance; section 1, Sherman Act,violation may be inferred where putative unilateral act is infurtherance of a course......
  • Identifying Anticompetitive Agreements in the United States and the European Union
    • United States
    • Antitrust Bulletin Nbr. 62-2, June 2017
    • June 1, 2017
    ...on thesubstantive rule of per se illegality, overturned the principle of Dr. Miles, and made minimum RPM a89. 220 U.S. 373 (1911).90. 250 US 300, 307 (1919).91. 433 U.S. 36 (1977).92. Andrew I. Gavil, A First Look at the Powell Papers: Sylvania and the Process of Change in the Supreme Court......
  • Dealing with Competitors
    • United States
    • Frequently Asked Antitrust Questions - Second Edition
    • October 5, 2013
    ...F.3d 1135 (2d Cir. 2000). 70. Pacific Bell Tel. Co. v. Linkline Commc’ns, 555 U.S. 438, 448 (2009) (citing United States v. Colgate & Co., 250 U.S. 300, 307 (1919)); Verizon Commc’ns v. Law Offices of Curtis V. Trinko, LLP, 540 U.S. 398 (2004); see also Four Corners Nephrology Assocs. v. Me......
  • Pricing
    • United States
    • Frequently Asked Antitrust Questions - Second Edition
    • October 5, 2013
    ...Colgate doctrine, which recognizes that a unilateral policy is not an agreement in restraint of trade. See United States v. Colgate & Co., 250 U.S. 300, 307 (1919). 63. Leegin Creative Leather Prods. v. PSKS, Inc., 551 U.S. 877 (2007). procompetitive effects, and should thus be evaluated un......
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