In preparation for the 1985 Georgia Bar Examination, petitioners contracted to take a bar review course offered by respondent BRG of Georgia, Inc. (BRG). In this litigation they contend that the price of BRG's course was enhanced by reason of an unlawful agreement between BRG and respondent Harcourt Brace Jovanovich Legal and Professional Publications (HBJ), the Nation's largest provider of bar review
HBJ began offering a Georgia bar review course on a limited basis in 1976, and was in direct, and often intense, competition with BRG during the period from 1977 to 1979. BRG and HBJ were the two main providers of bar review courses in Georgia during this time period. In early 1980, they entered into an agreement that gave BRG an exclusive license to market HBJ's material in Georgia and to use its trade name "Bar/Bri." The parties agreed that HBJ would not compete with BRG in Georgia and that BRG would not compete with HBJ outside of Georgia.
On petitioners' motion for partial summary judgment as to the § 1 counts in the complaint and respondents' motion for summary judgment, the District Court held that the agreement
In United States v. Socony-Vacuum Oil Co., 310 U.S. 150 (1940), we held that an agreement among competitors to engage in a program of buying surplus gasoline on the spot market in order to prevent prices from falling sharply was unlawful, even though there was no direct agreement on the actual prices to be maintained. We explained that "[u]nder the Sherman Act a combination formed for the purpose and with the effect of raising, depressing, fixing, pegging, or stabilizing the price of a commodity in interstate or foreign commerce is illegal per se." Id., at 223. See also Catalano, Inc. v. Target Sales, Inc., 446 U.S. 643 (1980) (per curiam); National Society of Professional Engineers v. United States, 435 U.S. 679 (1978).
In United States v. Topco Associates, Inc., 405 U.S. 596 (1972), we held that agreements between competitors to allocate territories to minimize competition are illegal:
The defendants in Topco had never competed in the same market, but had simply agreed to allocate markets. Here, HBJ and BRG had previously competed in the Georgia market; under their allocation agreement, BRG received that market, while HBJ received the remainder of the United States. Each agreed not to compete in the other's territories. Such agreements are anticompetitive regardless of whether the parties split a market within which both do business
The petition for a writ of certiorari is granted, the judgment of the Court of Appeals is reversed, and the case is remanded for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.
It is so ordered.
JUSTICE SOUTER took no part in the consideration or decision of this case.
JUSTICE MARSHALL, dissenting.
Although I agree that the limited information before us appears to indicate that the Court of Appeals erred in its decision below, I continue to believe that summary dispositions deprive litigants of a fair opportunity to be heard on the merits and significantly increase the risk of an erroneous decision. See Smith v. Ohio, 494 U.S. 541, 544 (1990) (MARSHALL, J., dissenting); Pennsylvania v. Bruder, 488 U.S. 9, 11-12 (1988) (MARSHALL, J., dissenting); Rhodes v. Stewart, 488 U.S. 1, 4-5 (1988) (MARSHALL, J., dissenting); Buchanan v. Stanships, Inc., 485 U.S. 265, 269-270 (1988)
"Every contract, combination in the form of trust or otherwise, or conspiracy, in restraint of trade or commerce among the several States, or with foreign nations, is declared to be illegal."
We do not reach the other claims alleged in petitioners' nine-count complaint, including violations of § 2 of the Sherman Act, 15 U. S. C. § 2.