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SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES

Syllabus

MAPLE FLOORING MANUFACTURERS ASSN. ET AL. v. UNITED STATES

268 U.S. 563

APPEAL FROM THE DISTRICT COURT OF THE UNITED STATES FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN.

No. 342. Argued December 1, 2, 1924, Reargued March 3, 1925 -- Decided June 1, 1925

Appeal from a decree of the District Court awarding an injunction, in a suit brought by the Government under the Anti-Trust Act against a combination, in the form of a trade association, of manufacturers of hardwood flooring lumber.

1. In a suit to enjoin a trade association under the Anti-Trust Act in which the Government adduced, as evidence of guilty purpose, the history of earlier combinations which this one had superseded, held that there was no evidence of any present agreement or purpose to produce any effect on commerce other than that which necessarily would flow from the activities of the present association, and that the only question was whether that association, as actually conducted, had a necessary tendency to cause direct and undue restraint of competition condemned by the Act. P. 577.

2. Each case arising under the Sherman Act must be determined upon the particular facts disclosed by the record; and opinions of the Court in those cases must be read and applied in the light of their facts, with clear recognition of essential differences in that regard. P. 579.

3. Trade associations or combinations of individuals or corporations, which, as in this case, openly and fairly gather and disseminate information as to the cost of their product, the actual prices it has brought in past transactions, stocks on hand and approximate cost of transportation from the principal point of shipment to points of consumption, and meet and discuss such statistics without reaching or attempting to reach any agreement or concerted action respecting prices, production or the restraining of competition, do not thereby engage in an unlawful restraint of commerce. P. 582.

4. In a suit under the Anti-Trust Act to dissolve a trade association formed by numerous manufacturers of hard-wood flooring, the following activities were complained of: (1) Computation and distribution among the members of information as to the average cost of their products, based (a) on cost of raw material as ascertained and averaged by the association's secretary from reports of actual sales of rough lumber by members in open market, (b) on manufacturing costs ascertained through questionnaires sent the members, and (c) on percentage of waste in milling, ascertained through test runs made by selected members under direction of the secretary; (2) compilation and distribution among them of booklets showing freight rates from a basing point to numerous points to which their products were shipped, enabling members to quote delivered prices promptly; (3) gathering by periodical reports from members of information as to the quantity and kind of flooring sold by them, dates of sales and prices received, average freight rates, commissions paid, amount and kinds of stock on hand, and of unfilled orders, monthly production and new orders booked; which information, embracing only past and closed transactions and omitting names of purchasers, current prices and many other details, was transmitted in summarized form to the members by the secretary of the association, without, however, revealing the identity of members in connection with specific information transmitted, and was given wide publicity through publication in trade journals, communication to the Department of Commerce, etc.; (4) monthly meetings at which problems of the industry were discussed, without discussion or agreement upon prices. Held that such activities did not constitute an unlawful restraint on commerce. Am. Column Lumber Co. v. United States, 257 U.S. 377; United States v. Am. Linseed Oil Co., 262 U.S. 371, distinguished. P. 568.

Reversed.

Mr. Justice Stone delivered the opinion of the Court.

Mr. Chief Justice Taft and Mr. Justice Sanford dissenting, Mr. Justice McReynolds dissenting in a separate opinion.


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