To almost no one’s surprise, the Court ruled today (unanimously) in Texaco v Dagher that a pricing agreement between Shell and Texaco which was part of a lawful joint venure is not per se illegal under the Sherman Act. See this Reuter’s story here (HT: Bill). The key grafs:
Justice Clarence Thomas concluded in the seven-page opinion that it is not automatically illegal under the antitrust law for a lawful, economically integrated joint venture to set the prices at which the joint venture sells its products.
He said [the joint venture’s] pricing policy may be price fixing in a literal sense, but it is not price fixing in the antitrust sense.
Josh earlier reported on this case here. At the time he noted:
My prediction? SCOTUS will, as expected, tame the exotic beast. But how? I am doubtful, like Professor Ghosh at AntitrustProf Blog, that the Court will attempt to articulate an extension of the Copperweld doctrine (which protects wholly-owned subsidiaries from charges of intra-enterprise conspiracy under Section 1) to joint ventures. The United States Amici brief supporting Shell and Texaco urges the Court to take another route, ruling that per se analysis should not apply to this type of agreement because it â€œcould not, and did not, itself eliminate competition.â€? That sounds right to me.
More when we see the opinion . . . .