The opinion of the court was delivered by: SHERIDAN
This is a private antitrust action which arises under Section 2 of the Sherman Act, Act of July 2, 1890, c. 647, 26 Stat. 209, as amended, 15 U.S.C.A. § 2, and under Section 4 of the Clayton Act, Act of October 15, 1914, c. 323, 38 Stat. 731, 15 U.S.C.A. § 15, to recover treble damages for defendant's alleged monopolization of the shoe machinery industry, and, particularly, its alleged monopolistic practices with respect to substantially all shoe machinery required and used by plaintiff, The Hanover Shoe, Inc. (Hanover).
The complaint, as amended, alleges in paragraph 14 that "Prior to and continuously from the year 1912 the defendant, United Shoe Machinery Corporation, has been violating the antitrust laws of the United States by: (a) monopolizing interstate trade and commerce in the shoe machinery industry of the United States; (b) monopolizing interstate trade and commerce of the United States in "substantially all shoe machinery required and used by Hanover in the manufacture of men's and boys' shoes." In paragraph 15 it is alleged that "Monopolization by United as aforesaid and the exercise by it of its monopoly powers has enabled United to dominate and control the market in shoe machinery, to restrict actual competition and to exclude potential competition in said market."
The complaint then sets forth allegations with respect to the principal means used by United to accomplish the violation of law. It is alleged that "At all times prior to May 17, 1954, the date of the decision of the United States Supreme Court affirming a judgment that United violated Section 2 of the Sherman Act by monopolizing the shoe machinery trade and commerce among the several States, United declined to sell most of its shoe machines and made such machines available to shoe manufacturers only upon leases . . ." and that United "offered on lease only all of the major, important machines used by Hanover" in the shoe manufacturing operations described in other paragraphs of the complaint. It is alleged that United's leases for most of its machines, including all such leases with Hanover, provided flat rental charges or unit rental charges based on the number of shoes produced or on the number of operations performed by the machines, and on the rest of its machines, including those on lease to Hanover, provided for payment of both rental and unit charges. It is alleged that in these leases, the 10 year term, full capacity, minimum charge, and machine return clauses, alone or in combination with one or more of the other clauses, deter and prevent shoe manufacturing lessees, including Hanover, from replacing with a competitive machine each of the machines leased from United.
Other means used by United to deter competition are alleged to be the establishment of a "right of deduction fund" whereby a percentage of rentals was set aside by United to be applied by United, if desired by the lessee, to machine return charges or minimum rental charges; the requirement that lessees pay transportation and parts replacement costs, and a sum equaling either 25 or 50 percent of the remaining rental for the term if a lessee, including Hanover, desired to replace a United machine with that of a United competitor; and United's voluntary assumption of machine repair with no separate charge to the lessee, thereby deterring the establishment and growth of competitive repair service organizations. The complaint alleges that as a further means of preventing competition, United, when faced with competition, reduced its own rates on machinery types threatened by competition; introduced new models at lower rates than those rates for comparable old models; maintained rates on a particular machine type despite a policy of increasing rates on other machine types to meet increased costs of manufacture; and introduced new models so designed and priced as to reach only that area of the shoe manufacturing industry in which a competitor was attempting to market a machine.
Hanover alleges that these practices affected it in the following ways: (a) United collected from Hanover excessive, arbitrary and non-competitive rental, unit and other charges for its products and services; (b) Hanover was prevented from acquiring shoe machinery, new or used, as owner either from United or elsewhere; (c) United extracted from Hanover for the use of its shoe machinery, large sums of money in excess of the reasonable value of such machinery and of the service rendered by United on such machinery.
Hanover claims damages of $2,000,000, and pursuant to the treble damage provisions of the Clayton Act, requests judgment of $6,000,000.
In its answer United denied many of the significant allegations of the complaint and set up as affirmative defenses the statute of limitations, laches, estoppel, waiver and acquiescence on the part of Hanover. United also contends that its pre-eminence in the shoe machinery industry is due to its initiative and enterprise and its business methods, which were adopted to promote success of manufacturers generally, and has been accompanied by an increase of opportunity for Hanover.
The action was tried to the court without a jury.
Findings of Fact, Conclusions ...