United States v. Grinnell Corporation Grinnell Corporation v. United States American District Telegraph Co v. United States Holmes Electric Protective Co v. United States Automatic Fire Alarm Co v. United States 8212 77, Nos. 73

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtDOUGLAS
Citation86 S.Ct. 1698,384 U.S. 563,16 L.Ed.2d 778
Decision Date13 June 1966
Docket NumberNos. 73
PartiesUNITED STATES, Appellant, v. GRINNELL CORPORATION et al. GRINNELL CORPORATION, Appellant, v. UNITED STATES. AMERICAN DISTRICT TELEGRAPH CO., Appellant, v. UNITED STATES. HOLMES ELECTRIC PROTECTIVE CO., Appellant, v. UNITED STATES. AUTOMATIC FIRE ALARM CO., Appellant, v. UNITED STATES. —77

384 U.S. 563
86 S.Ct. 1698
16 L.Ed.2d 778
UNITED STATES, Appellant,

v.

GRINNELL CORPORATION et al. GRINNELL CORPORATION, Appellant, v. UNITED STATES. AMERICAN DISTRICT TELEGRAPH CO., Appellant, v. UNITED STATES. HOLMES ELECTRIC PROTECTIVE CO., Appellant, v. UNITED STATES. AUTOMATIC FIRE ALARM CO., Appellant, v. UNITED STATES.

Nos. 73—77.
Argued March 28 and 29, 1966.
Decided June 13, 1966.

[Syllabus from pages 563-565 intentionally omitted]

Page 565

Daniel M. Friedman, Washington, D.C., for appellant in No. 73 and appellee in Nos. 74—77.

John F. Sonnett, New York City, for appellant in No. 74 and appellees in No. 73.

Macdonald Flinn, New York City, for appellant in No. 75 and appellees in No. 73.

John W. Drye, Jr., New York City, for appellant in No. 76 and appellees in No. 73.

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J. Francis Hayden, New York City, for appellant in No. 77.

Mr. Justice DOUGLAS delivered the opinion of the Court.

This case presents an important question under § 2 of the Sherman Act,1 which makes it an offense for any person to 'monopolize * * * any part of the trade or commerce among the several States.' This is a civil suit brought by the United States against Grinnell Corporation (Grinnell), American District Telegraph Co. (ADT), Holmes Electric Protective Co. (Holmes) and Automatic Fire Alarm Co. of Delaware (AFA). The District Court held for the Government and entered a decree. All parties appeal,2 the United States because it deems the relief inadequate and the defendants both on the merits and on the relief and on the ground that the District Court denied them a fair trial. We noted probable jurisdiction. 381 U.S. 910, 85 S.Ct. 1538, 14 L.Ed.2d 432.

Grinnell manufactures plumbing supplies and fire sprinkler systems. It also owns 76% of the stock of ADT, 89% of the stock of AFA, and 100% of the stock of Holmes.3 ADT provides both burglary and fire protection services; Holmes provides burglary services alone; AFA supplies only fire protection service. Each offers a central station service under which hazard-detecting devices installed on the protected premises automati-

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cally transmit an electric signal to a central station.4 The central station is manned 24 hours a day. Upon receipt of a signal, the central station, where appropriate, dispatches guards to the protected premises and notifies the police or fire department direct. There are other forms of protective services. But the record shows that subscribers to accredited central station service (i.e., that approved by the insurance underwriters) receive reductions in their insurance premiums that are substantially greater than the reduction received by the users of other kinds of protection service. In 1961 accredited companies in the central station service business grossed $65,000,000. ADT, Holmes, and AFA are the three largest companies in the business in terms of revenue: ADT (with 121 central stations in 115 cities) has 73% of the business; Holmes (with 12 central stations in three large cities) has 12.5%; AFA (with three central stations in three large cities) has 2%. Thus the three companies that Grinnell controls have over 87% of the business.

Over the years ADT purchased the stock or assets of 27 companies engaged in the business of providing burglar or fire alarm services. Holmes acquired the stock or assets of three burglar alarm companies in New York City using a central station. Of these 30, the officials

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of seven agreed not to engage in the protective service business in the area for periods ranging from five years to permanently. After Grinnell acquired control of the other defendants, the latter continued in their attempts to acquire central station companies—offers being made to at least eight companies between the years 1955 and 1961, including four of the five largest nondefendant companies in the business. When the present suit was filed, each of those defendants had outstanding an offer to purchase one of the four largest nondefendant companies.

In 1906, prior to the affiliation of ADT and Holmes, they made a written agreement whereby ADT transferred to Holmes its burglar alarm business in a major part of the Middle Atlantic States and agreed to refrain forever from engaging in that business in that area, while Holmes transferred to ADT its watch signal business and agreed to limit its activities to burglar alarm service and night watch service for financial institutions. While this agreement was modified several times and terminated in 1947, in 1961 Holmes still restricted its business to burglar alarm service and operated only in those areas which had been allocated to it under the 1906 agreement. Similarly, ADT continued to refrain from supplying burglar alarm service in those areas earlier allocated to Holmes.

In 1907 Grinnell entered into a series of agreements with the other defendant companies and with Automatic Fire Protection Co. to the following effect:

AFA received the exclusive right to provide central station sprinkler supervisory and waterflow alarm and automatic fire alarm service in New York City, Boston and Philadelphia, and agreed not to provide burglar alarm service in those cities or central station service elsewhere in the United States.

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Automatic Fire Protection Co. obtained the exclusive right to provide central station sprinkler supervisory and waterflow alarm service everywhere else in the United States except for the three cities in which AFA received that exclusive right, and agreed not to engage in burglar alarm service.

ADT received the exclusive right to render burglar alarm and nightwatch service throughout the United States. (Under ADT's 1906 agreement with Holmes, however, it could not provide burglar alarm services in the areas for which it had given Holmes the exclusive right to do so.) It agreed not to furnish sprinkler supervisory and waterflow alarm service anywhere in the country and not to furnish automatic fire alarm service in New York City, Boston or Philadelphia (the three cities allocated to AFA). ADT agreed to connect to its central stations the systems installed by AFA and Automatic.

Grinnell agreed to furnish and install all sprinkler supervisory and waterflow alarm actuating devices used in systems that AFA and Automatic would install, and otherwise not to engage in the central station protection business.

AFA and Automatic received 25% of the revenue produced by the sprinkler supervisory waterflow alarm service which they provided in their respective territories; ADT and Grinnell received 50% and 25%, respectively, of the revenue which resulted from such service. The agreements were to continue until February 1954.

The agreements remained substantially unchanged until 1949 when ADT purchased all of Automatic Fire Protection Co.'s rights under it for $13,500,000. After these 1907 agreements expired in 1954, AFA continued to honor the prior division of territories; and ADT and AFA entered into a new contract providing for the continued sharing of revenues on substantially the same

Page 570

basis as before.5 In 1954 Grinnell and ADT renewed an agreement with a Rhode Island company which received the exclusive right to render central station service within Rhode Island at prices no lower than those of ADT and which agreed to use certain equipment supplied by Grinnell and ADT and to share its revenues with those companies. ADT had an informal agreement with a competing central station company in Washington, D.C., 'that we would not solicit each other's accounts.'

ADT over the years reduced its minimum basic rates to meet competition and renewed contracts at substantially increased rates in cities where it had a monopoly of accredited central station service. ADT threatened retaliation against firms that contemplated inaugurating central station service. And the record indicates that, in contemplating opening a new central station, ADT officials frequently stressed that such action would deter their competitors from opening a new station in that area.

The District Court found that the defendant companies had committed per se violations of § 1 of the Sherman Act as well as § 2 and entered a decree. 236 F.Supp. 244.

I.

The offense of monopoly under § 2 of the Sherman Act has two elements: (1) the possession of monopoly power in the relevant market and (2) the willful acqui-

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sition or maintenance of that power as distinguished from growth or development as a consequence of a superior product, business acumen, or historic accident. We shall see that this second ingredient presents no major problem here, as what was done in building the empire was done plainly and explicitly for a single purpose. In United States v. E. I. du Pont De Nemours & Co., 351 U.S. 377, 391, 76 S.Ct. 994, 1005, 100 L.Ed. 1264, we defined monopoly power as 'the power to control prices or exclude competition.' The existence of such power ordinarily may be inferred from the predominant share of the market. In American Tobacco Co. v. United States, 328 U.S. 781, 797, 66 S.Ct. 1125, 1133, 90 L.Ed. 1575, we said that 'over two-thirds of the entire domestic field of cigarettes, and * * * over 80% of the field of comparable cigarettes' constituted 'a substantial monopoly.' In United States v. Aluminum Co. of America, 2 Cir., 148 F.2d 416, 429, 90% of the market constituted monopoly power. In the present case, 87% of the accredited central station service business leaves no doubt that the congeries of these defendants have monopoly power—power which, as our discussion of the record indicates, they did not hesitate to wield—if that business is the relevant market. The only remaining question therefore is, what is the relevant market?

In case of a product it may be of such a character that substitute products must also be considered, as customers may turn to them if there is a slight increase in the price of the main product. That is...

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2520 practice notes
  • Justice Department, Antitrust Division,
    • United States
    • Federal Register March 18, 2002
    • March 18, 2002
    ...(CCH) para. 71,555 (D.D.C. 1996) United States v. Gillette Co., 406 F. Supp. 713, 716 (D. Mass. 1975) United States v. Grinnell Corp., 384 U.S. 563 United States v. Input/Output, Inc., 1999-1 Trade Cas. (CCH) para. 72,528 (D.D.C. 1999) United States v. Mahle GmbH, 1997-2 Trade Cas. (CCH) pa......
  • 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
    ...that area. See United States v. duPont & Co., 351 U.S. 377, 393-400, 76 S.Ct. 994, 100 L.Ed. 1264 (1956); United States v. Grinnell Corp., 384 U.S. 563, 571-576, 86 S.Ct. 1698, 16 L.Ed.2d 778 (1966); Plastic Packaging Materials, Inc. v. Dow Chemical Co., 327 F.Supp. 213, 229-230 (E.D.Pa.197......
  • 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
    ...from growth or development as a consequence of superior product, business, acumen, or historic accident." United States v. Grinnell Corp., 384 U.S. 563, 570-71, 86 S.Ct. 1698, 1703-04, 16 L.Ed.2d 778 (1966). The Time defendants do not dispute that MCTV's alleged refusal to deal constitutes ......
  • 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
    ...Law Offices of Curtis V. Trinko, LLP, 540 U.S. 398, 407, 124 S.Ct. 872, 157 L.Ed.2d 823 (2004) (quoting United States v. Grinnell Corp., 384 U.S. 563, 570-71, 86 S.Ct. 1698, 16 L.Ed.2d 778 (1966)). Here, the Complaint founders on both 1. The Complaint Fails to Allege that the Manufacturing ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
2481 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
    ...that area. See United States v. duPont & Co., 351 U.S. 377, 393-400, 76 S.Ct. 994, 100 L.Ed. 1264 (1956); United States v. Grinnell Corp., 384 U.S. 563, 571-576, 86 S.Ct. 1698, 16 L.Ed.2d 778 (1966); Plastic Packaging Materials, Inc. v. Dow Chemical Co., 327 F.Supp. 213, 229-230 (E.D.Pa.197......
  • 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
    ...from growth or development as a consequence of superior product, business, acumen, or historic accident." United States v. Grinnell Corp., 384 U.S. 563, 570-71, 86 S.Ct. 1698, 1703-04, 16 L.Ed.2d 778 (1966). The Time defendants do not dispute that MCTV's alleged refusal to deal constitutes ......
  • 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
    ...Law Offices of Curtis V. Trinko, LLP, 540 U.S. 398, 407, 124 S.Ct. 872, 157 L.Ed.2d 823 (2004) (quoting United States v. Grinnell Corp., 384 U.S. 563, 570-71, 86 S.Ct. 1698, 16 L.Ed.2d 778 (1966)). Here, the Complaint founders on both 1. The Complaint Fails to Allege that the Manufacturing ......
  • United States v. Microsoft Corporation, Civil Action No. 98-1232 (TPJ) (D. D.C. 9/14/1998), Civil Action No. 98-1232 (TPJ).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. United States District Court (Columbia)
    • September 14, 1998
    ...growth or development as a consequence of a superior product, business acumen, or historic accident." See United States v. Grinnell Corp., 384 U.S. 563, 570-71 (1966). For purposes of summary judgment, Microsoft concedes its possession of monopoly power in the market for Intel-compatible PC......
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42 books & journal articles
  • ANTITRUST VIOLATIONS
    • United States
    • American Criminal Law Review Nbr. 58-3, July 2021
    • July 1, 2021
    ...U.S. 417, 450–51 (1920). 306. Eastman Kodak Co. v. Image Tech. Servs., 504 U.S. 451, 481 (1992) (quoting United States v. Grinnel Corp., 384 U.S. 563, 570–71 (1966)); see also Heerwagen v. Clear Channel Commc’ns, 435 F.3d 219, 226 (2d Cir. 2006) (discussing relevant market for monopolizatio......
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    • United States
    • William and Mary Law Review Vol. 63 Nbr. 6, May 2022
    • May 1, 2022
    ...rather than the trees. (1.) See, e.g., United States v. U.S. Steel Corp., 251 U.S. 417, 450-51 (1920); United States v. Grinnell Corp., 384 U.S. 563, 570-571 (1966); Pac. Bell Tel. Co. v. LinkLine Commc'ns, Inc., 555 U.S. 438, 447-448 (2009); see also Robin Feldman, Patent and Antitrust: Di......
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    • United States
    • Antitrust Bulletin Nbr. 62-4, December 2017
    • December 1, 2017
    ...Yeager’s Fuel, Inc. v.Pennsylvania Power & Light Co., 953 F. Supp. 617, 641–42 (E.D. Pa. 1997).67. United States v. Grinnell Corp., 384 U.S. 563, 570–71 (1966).68. As Elhauge asks: “Why isn’t it just good ‘business acumen’ to refuse to share one’s superior product with rivals in order todri......
  • The Antitrust Duty to Deal in the Age of Big Tech.
    • United States
    • Yale Law Journal Vol. 131 Nbr. 5, March 2022
    • March 1, 2022
    ...or development as a consequence of a superior product, business acumen, or historic accident'" (quoting United States v. Grinnell Corp., 384 U.S. 563, 571 (53.) See, e.g., Morris Commc'ns Corp. v. PGA Tour, Inc., 364 F.3d 1288, 1294 (nth Cir. 2004) ("Two theories exist upon which to predica......
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