APPEAL FROM THE DISTRICT COURT OF THE UNITED STATES FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF OHIO.*fn*
Stone, Roberts, Black, Reed, Frankfurter, Rutledge; Douglas, Murphy and Jackson took no part in consideration or decision of this case.
MR. JUSTICE ROBERTS delivered the opinion of the Court.
These are appeals from a decree*fn1 awarding an injunction against violations of §§ 1 and 2 of the Sherman Act, as amended,*fn2 and § 3 of the Clayton Act.*fn3 Two questions are presented. Were violations proved? If so, are the provisions of the decree right?
The complaint named as defendants 12 corporations and 101 individuals associated with them as officers or directors. It was dismissed as to 3 corporations and 40 individuals. The corporations are the leaders in automatic glassmaking machinery and in the glassware industry. The charge is that all the defendants agreed, conspired, and combined to monopolize, and did monopolize and restrain interstate and foreign commerce by acquiring patents covering the manufacture of glassmaking machinery, and by excluding others from a fair opportunity freely to engage in commerce in such machinery and in the manufacture and distribution of glass products. The gravamen of the case is that the defendants have cooperated in obtaining and licensing patents covering glassmaking machinery, have limited and restricted the use of the patented machinery by a network of agreements, and have maintained prices for unpatented glassware.
The trial lasted 112 days. The court filed an opinion of 160 pages, 628 findings of fact and 89 conclusions of law, and entered a decree covering 46 printed pages and comprising 60 numbered paragraphs. The printed record contains over 16,500 pages. An opinion of reasonable length must deal in summary fashion with the facts disclosed by the proofs and leave much of the detailed history
of the transactions to be gleaned from the opinion below.
In 1912 Hartford-Fairmont Company was organized to combine the activities of two existing companies interested in glass manufacture with those of a group of engineers who desired to obtain and exploit patents for automatic glassmaking machinery. The defendant Corning Glass Works was, at that time, engaged primarily in the production and distribution of incandescent bulbs, sign and optical ware, heat-resisting ware and other specialty glassware. Its field may be defined roughly as the pressed and blown field, or the noncontainer field. It has not made, and does not now make, containers save a limited amount of tumblers. In 1909 persons interested in Corning organized Empire Machine Company as a patent holding and developing company.
The defendant Owens-Illinois Glass Company (hereinafter called Owens) is a large manufacturer of glass. Mr. Owens of that company produced the first fully automatic machine for blowing bottles, which is known as a suction type machine. He was interested in companies engaged in developing and manufacturing this type of machine and exercising the rights represented by the Owens and related patents. From about 1904 the Owens group followed the policy of granting exclusive licenses, in limited fields, for the manufacture of glassware by the suction process. Owens itself was, and is, mainly interested in what is known as narrow neck container ware. Prior to the Owens inventions glassmaking had been largely a hand process. Thereafter, due to Owens' restrictive licensing policy, many glass manufacturers were threatened with extinction unless some other competing machine could be devised. Ultimately a process, called suspended gob feeding, was invented, which was more economical for certain ware than the suction process, and could be
applied in the manufacture of diversified glassware. The introduction of the gob feeder machine threatened Owens' domination of the glass machinery field and Owens, in self-protection, obtained patents and patent rights on gob feeders and licensed some companies for their use.
Hartford-Fairmont was interested in the development of the gob feeder. It applied for some patents and acquired others. In the meantime, it licensed gob feeder machinery, as Owens had done with the suction machine, by restricting its use to the manufacture of specified ware. Empire owned certain patent applications which were in interference with Hartford-Fairmont gob feeder applications.
June 30, 1916, Hartford-Fairmont and Empire made an agreement whereby Empire was given an exclusive license to use Hartford-Fairmont's patents for pressed and blown glassware and Hartford-Fairmont was given an exclusive license to use Empire's patents for production of containers. Thus Corning obtained exclusive rights, under the patents, for Corning's line of ware, -- pressed and blown glass, -- and Hartford obtained the patent rights of both companies in respect of other glassware. Negotiations led to agreements, October 6, 1922, whereby Hartford-Empire (hereinafter called Hartford) was formed and took over all assets of Hartford-Fairmont and of Empire relating to glass machinery. Empire received 43% of the stock of the company and Corning retained approximately the same exclusive interest that Empire had enjoyed under the 1916 agreement. Hartford retained approximately the same rights it had obtained from Empire in 1916 subject to a shop right in Corning which has not been exercised. Empire was dissolved in 1941.
After 1916 Hartford-Fairmont (and its successor Hartford) and Owens were competitors in the gob feeding field; their applications were in interference in the Patent Office with each other and with those of other applicants; and
they were in litigation. As a result of negotiations for a settlement of their disputes, they entered into an agreement April 9, 1924, whereby Owens granted Hartford an exclusive license under Owens' patents for gob feeder and forming machines and Hartford granted Owens a nonexclusive, nonassignable, and nondivisible license to make and use machines and methods embodying patents then or thereafter owned or acquired by Hartford for the manufacture of glassware, but Owens was not to sell or license gob feeding machinery and was excluded from the pressed and blown field previously reserved to Corning. Owens was to receive one-half of Hartford's divisible income from licenses over and above $600,000 per annum. Owens retained a veto power on Hartford's granting new licenses on machines embodying Owens' inventions. This provision was eliminated in 1931. The agreement left Owens in full control of its patented suction process.
As soon as the agreement had been made, Hartford and Owens combined to get control of all other feeder patents. In this endeavor they pooled the efforts of their legal staffs and contributed equally to the purchase of patents and the expenses of litigation.
While patent claims upon applications controlled by Hartford and Owens were pending in the Patent Office, Hartford purchased, under the joint arrangement, certain feeder patents and applications belonging to outsiders, and persons to whom feeders had been sold or licensed by such outsiders were persuaded to take licenses from Hartford. As a result of Hartford's and Owens' joint efforts in connection with patent applications and purchases of applications and patents of others, Hartford obtained what it considered controlling patents on gob feeders in 1926.
Hazel-Atlas Glass Company (hereinafter called Hazel) was second to Owens in the manufacture and sale of glass containers. It had been using feeders of its own design
and manufacture. To build up further patent control, to discourage use of machinery not covered by their patents, and to influence glassmakers to take licenses under Hartford's inventions, Hartford and Owens desired that Hazel should become a partner-licensee. In 1924 they negotiated with Hazel to this end and offered to return to Hazel a substantial portion of any royalties it would have to pay as a licensee. No agreement was reached and Hartford brought infringement suits against Hazel and its subsidiaries. One Circuit Court of Appeals decided favorably to Hazel; another favorably to Hartford. Shortly after the latter decision, Hartford and Owens, in order to buttress the patent situation, persuaded Hazel to make a settlement.
As of June 1, 1932, Hartford, Owens, and Hazel executed a series of agreements. Hartford licensed Hazel under Hartford's patents, excluding from the license the pressed and blown field reserved to Corning and with restrictions against sale or license by Hazel to anyone else. Hazel licensed Hartford under all its glass machinery patents, present and future, to January 3, 1945. Hazel paid Hartford $1,000,000 and agreed to pay Hartford royalties, and Hartford agreed that Hazel and Owens should each receive one-third of Hartford's net income from royalties and license fees over and above $850,000 per annum. Hartford and Owens readjusted their contractual status to conform it to the agreements with Hazel. Owens maintained control of its own suction inventions. It confirmed to Hazel its existing rights under earlier agreements to use these. Owens obtained an option either to purchase, or to become licensee, of any suction inventions controlled by Hartford and agreed, in event of such acquisition, to permit Hazel to use them. Owens and Hazel had the option, on notice, to terminate their contracts with Hartford but agreed mutually to protect each other in such event. The result of this combination was that
resistance to Hartford's licensing campaign disappeared and practically the entire industry took licenses from Hartford.
Thatcher Manufacturing Company, a large manufacturer of milk bottles, early obtained an exclusive license to manufacture them on the Owens suction machine. In 1920 Thatcher secured the exclusive right to manufacture milk bottles on Hartford's paddle needle feeder and milk bottle forming machine. It pressed for like rights under Hartford's later device, the single feeder. Though refusing the grant, Hartford assured Thatcher that it would be given every consideration in the grant of further licenses. By a supplemental agreement of December 1, 1925, Hartford, in view of its "moral obligation" to Thatcher, agreed to pay and, until January 1, 1936, allowed Thatcher a rebate on a certain portion of Thatcher's production, and, in 1928, agreed to give Thatcher the refusal of any exclusive license on feeders and formers for production of milk bottles. In 1936 a new agreement was made whereby Hartford agreed that, so long as Thatcher manufactured 750,000 gross per annum, Hartford would grant no other license for manufacture of milk bottles.
Ball Brothers, the largest manufacturer of domestic fruit jars, had used machines of its own design as well as the Owens suction machines under license, but had never taken any license from Hartford. In 1933 Ball took a license from Hartford, obtaining all the residual rights of Hartford for the manufacture of fruit jars, and, inter alia, granted Hartford an option to take licenses on all Ball's patents for glass machinery then owned or thereafter acquired. After discussion as to the rights of Hazel and Owens to manufacture fruit jars, it was proposed that they be limited by written agreement, Hazel to 300,000 gross and Owens to 100,000 gross annually. It was decided not to have a written agreement but both have generally kept within these limits. When the complaint
was filed Ball Brothers manufactured approximately 54.5% of all the fruit jars manufactured and sold in the United States, Hazel 17.6%, Owens 6.4%, and an outsider, using a machine on which the patents had expired, 21.5%.
In granting licenses under the pooled patents Hartford always reserved the rights within Corning's field. Further, it not only limited its licensees to certain portions of the container field but, in many instances, limited the amount of glassware which might be produced by the licensee and, in numerous instances, as a result of conferences with Owens, Hazel, Thatcher and Ball, refused licenses to prevent overstocking the glassware market and to "stabilize" the prices at which such ware was sold.
In the automatic manufacture of glassware, other machines are used in connection with the feeders. These are known as forming machines, stackers, and lehrs. The purpose of Hartford and Owens, participated in by the other three large manufacturers mentioned, was that there should be gathered into the pool patents covering and monopolizing these adjunct machines so that automatic glass manufacture, without consent of the parties to the pool, would become difficult if not impossible.
Several forming machines not covered by Hartford patents were on the market. Without going into detail, it is sufficient to say that, by purchases of patents and manufacturing plants, and by an agreement with Hartford's principal competitor, Lynch Manufacturing Company, the field was divided between Hartford and Lynch under restrictions which gave Hartford control. In the upshot it became impossible to use Hartford feeders with any other forming machine than one licensed by Hartford or used by its consent, and, as respects stackers and lehrs, Hartford attained a similar dominant status.
In 1935 certain new agreements were made. Though the 1932 agreement between Hartford and Hazel was substantially
unaffected, the contract relationships between Hartford and Owens were altered. The latter surrendered its right to one-third of Hartford's divisible royalty and license income in consideration of Hartford's promise to pay $2,500,000 in quarterly instalments. Owens extended the term of Hartford's license under certain Owens inventions and Hartford granted Owens a royalty-free, nonexclusive license under all Hartford's suction patents for the life of the patents, excluding, however, glassware in Corning's field. Other unimportant changes were made in existing contracts. Owens and Hazel thereupon amended their agreements so as to protect Hazel in event the contract relations between Owens and Hartford should be altered.
Owens insists that, by the 1935 agreements, it terminated all its relations with others which could violate the antitrust statutes. But the 1935 agreements left Hartford in undisputed control of the gob feeder field, and Owens in like control of the suction field. And they evidently relied on the situation which had been built up, their mutual interests, and other factors, as sufficient to guarantee continuance of existing restraints and monopolies without the necessity of formal contracts. The District Court found Owens did not abandon the conspiracy in 1935 and there is evidence to support the conclusion.
In 1919 the Glass Container Association of America was formed. Prior to 1933 its members produced 82% of the glass containers made in the United States and since have produced 92%. Since 1931 (except while the National Industrial Recovery Act was in force) the Association has had a statistical committee of seven, on which Owens, Hazel, Thatcher, and, since 1933, Ball were represented. These appellants also were represented in the Board of Directors. Hartford, though not a member, has closely cooperated with the officers of the association in efforts to discourage outsiders from increasing production
of glassware and newcomers from entering the field. The court below, on sufficient evidence, has found that the association, through its statistical committee, assigned production quotas to its members and that they and Hartford were zealous in seeing that these were observed.
In summary, the situation brought about in the glass industry, and existing in 1938, was this: Hartford, with the technical and financial aid of others in the conspiracy, had acquired, by issue to it or assignment from the owners, more than 600 patents. These, with over 100 Corning controlled patents, over 60 Owens patents, over 70 Hazel patents, and some 12 Lynch patents, had been, by crosslicensing agreements, merged into a pool which effectually controlled the industry. This control was exercised to allot production in Corning's field to Corning, and that in restricted classes within the general container field to Owens, Hazel, Thatcher, Ball, and such other smaller manufacturers as the group agreed should be licensed. The result was that 94% of the glass containers manufactured in this country on feeders and formers were made on machinery licensed under the pooled patents.
The District Court found that invention of glassmaking machinery had been discouraged, that competition in the manufacture and sale or licensing of such machinery had been suppressed, and that the system of restricted licensing had been employed to suppress competition in the manufacture of unpatented glassware and to maintain prices of the manufactured product. The findings are full and adequate and are supported by evidence, much of it contemporary writings of corporate defendants or their officers and agents.
In 1938 the Temporary National Economic Committee investigated the glassmaking industry. Many of the facts disclosed in this record were developed. Subsequently this suit was brought and, in pretrial conferences, the Government stated its view as to the terms of agreements
and the practices it deemed illegal. The principal corporate appellants had made some alterations in their arrangements and, after institution of suit, -- and on occasions up to submission of the case on the proofs, -- made further modifications on their own responsibility, and without concurrence of the appellee or the judge, in an effort to remedy alleged illegal conditions.
As a consequence, when the case stood for decision, the situation was as follows: The restrictions in the 1935 agreement between Hartford and Owens were removed, the exclusive provision, and the exclusions of the manufacture of certain glassware embodied in the 1935 agreements between Owens and Hazel were waived by Owens. Ball had surrendered its residual exclusive right for fruit jars and released a claim against Hartford thereunder for $425,000 in consideration of Hartford surrendering its option to acquire any Ball feeder inventions. Hartford withdrew the exclusive features of all its licenses of glass machinery. Hartford retained dominance of the gob feeder field. Owens, although its basic patent had expired, continued, by virtue of improvement patents, to dominate the suction field. Owens, Lynch, and Hartford were the leaders, if not altogether dominant in the forming machine field.
In July 1939 the Association changed the nature of its statistical reports which the court found were in reality assignments of quotas, and professed to have abandoned a voluntary exchange of statistical data which had previously taken place at committee or general meetings. It then adopted a form of statistical statement eliminating all forecasts and confined its reports to past performances of the members.
We affirm the District Court's findings and conclusions that the corporate appellants combined in violation of the Sherman Act, that Hartford and Lynch contracted in violation of the Clayton Act, and that the individual appellants
with exceptions to be noted participated in the violations in their capacities as officers and directors of the corporations.
Certain individual appellants insist that the finding that they were parties to the conspiracy must be set aside. In No. 10, Isaac J. Collins appeals from that portion of the decree which adjudges him a party to the conspiracy and grants relief against him, and, in No. 11, Fulton, Fisher, and Dilworth challenge their inclusion in the decree.
When suit was instituted Collins was president of, and Fulton, Fisher, and Dilworth were officially connected with, Anchor Hocking Glass Company. All had been officers, directors, and stockholders of companies which Anchor Hocking absorbed. Anchor Hocking is, and its predecessors were, manufacturers of glassware. None were holders of machine patents or in the glass machine business. In the bill of complaint the charges against individuals were made by alleging that a company, and certain individual defendants connected with it, had become parties to the conspiracy. The bill charged that in 1937 Anchor Hocking and certain defendants, being its officers and directors, joined the conspiracy. The appellants in question were named as amongst these Anchor Hocking defendants and were not elsewhere in the bill specifically charged with otherwise participating in the conspiracy.
At the close of the Government's case motions were made to dismiss the bill as to Anchor Hocking and all the directors and officers of that company, including Collins, Fulton, Fisher, and Dilworth, on the ground that the Government had failed to prove any participation by them in the alleged conspiracy. The court granted the motion with respect to all of them except Collins. Thereupon these defendants withdrew and did not participate further in the trial. Some months later, on a motion of the Government for rehearing of the order of
dismissal, the court refused to alter its order with respect to Anchor Hocking or the defendants associated with it, save only Fulton, Fisher, and Dilworth. As to them, it granted rehearings and restored them as defendants of record. When the findings and conclusions were entered these appellants were named as participants in the conspiracy and were included in the injunctions embodied in various sections of the decree.
We think the decree against them must be reversed for want of allegations in the bill sufficient to support a decree against them; because the findings made do not support the decree as to them; because the refusal of findings requested by the Government exculpates them of participation in the conspiracy; and, finally, because the proofs fail to connect them with it.
Fulton, Fisher, and Dilworth each hold stock of Hartford which they acquired many years ago. A company in which they were interested owned Hartford stock and pledged it under a mortgage. The company got into difficulties, the mortgage was in default, and they and others took over the pledged Hartford stock for cash so as to put the company in funds to refinance its mortgage.
The three appellants are amongst the two hundred or more stockholders of Hartford. The bill does not, and could not, charge them in their capacity as stockholders of Hartford, as parties to the conspiracy, and they are not to be enjoined by reason of their stock holdings in Hartford.
As we have said, they were officers and directors of certain predecessor companies taken over by Anchor Hocking, which were not charged in the bill as participants in the conspiracy. Anchor Hocking was so charged and these appellants and other individuals were charged in the bill to have been, and then to be, officers and directors participating in the direction and management of Anchor Hocking. The complaint adds: "Such individual defendants
have approved, authorized, ordered, and done some or all the acts herein alleged to have been performed by defendant Anchor Hocking." They are not otherwise specifically charged with participating in the conspiracy. It would seem, therefore, that when Anchor Hocking was found not to have participated the only basis for charging them disappeared. Moreover, the Government's proofs went no farther than to show that these appellants acted in the business affairs of Anchor Hocking. There is no proof that they conspired or cooperated with other companies parties to the conspiracy, or with other individuals who were officers and directors of such corporations. The only findings as to all are to the effect that they have been officers and directors of Anchor Hocking and its predecessors, and stockholders of Hartford and, as to one, that, in addition, as a Hartford-Fairmont stockholder, he signed the agreement in 1922 for the formation of Hartford-Empire. The Government requested the court to find, with respect to them, a number of facts which, if found, would have connected them with the conspiracy. The court refused the requests. Nowhere in the findings or in the opinion is any reason given why these appellants should be included in the injunction. As to them, the decree must be reversed.
Anchor Hocking was a licensee of Hartford machinery. The appellant Collins thought the royalty charged was excessive and complained repeatedly about it; and, believing that his company was free to make glass of any character on any kind of machinery, he complained about the exclusive features of the license. He repeatedly aroused the resentment of Hartford and some of the other participants in the conspiracy by his assertion of the purpose to use machinery and to manufacture glassware in ways they thought contrary to his company's rights as a licensee. There were even discussions as to
whether the company should be sued. This evidence is uncontradicted.
Collins is a stockholder of Hartford. He acquired his original stock interest in the same way that Fulton, Fisher, and Dilworth did. In 1926 he was elected a director, and remained such until 1937, when he resigned. This was prior to the T. N. E. C. hearing in which the Hartford licensing system was investigated and prior to the institution of suit. There is no evidence or finding of any reasonable likelihood that he will resume the directorship. Moreover, the bill charges that Anchor Hocking and the individuals connected with it entered the conspiracy in 1937.
The bill does not charge Collins with any act as officer or director of, or as participant in the direction and management of, Hartford. The only charge against him is in respect of his connection with Anchor Hocking. The evidence is that Collins was an irregular attendant at directors' meetings of Hartford; that he was not on any committee of the board which had direct contact with the management and patent affairs of Hartford; that he did not know of the preferred terms under which Owens and Hazel were licensed by Hartford until the matter was disclosed in the T. N. E. C. hearings and then criticized the arrangement. There is no evidence that, as a director of Hartford, he knew, approved, or voted in favor of any of the actions taken pursuant to the conspiracy. On the contrary, the evidence is uncontradicted that he repeatedly advocated more liberal licensing by Hartford and thought its royalties too high. As in the case of the other appellants mentioned, the Government requested findings of fact which, if made, would have spelled out a connection between Collins and the other conspirators but these were refused by the judge. Collins is found to have been, and still to be, a member of the Association's
statistical committee, but the bill does not charge him individually with any conduct in that relation. Of course, any injunction against the Association and its officers and agents will bind him so long as he remains in that relationship. Two other findings as to his activities as a director of Hartford, and as president of General Glass Company, touch matters as to which the bill of complaint is silent and concerning which the evidence is not persuasive of participation in any conspiracy charged or proved. We are of opinion that as to Collins, the bill should be dismissed.
Little need be said concerning the legal principles which vindicate the District Court's findings and conclusions as to the corporate appellants and the individual appellants who as officers or directors participated in the corporate acts which forwarded the objects of the conspiracy. As was said in Standard Sanitary Mfg. Co. v. United States, 226 U.S. 20, 49:
"Rights conferred by patents are indeed very definite and extensive, but they do not give any more than other rights an universal license against positive prohibitions. The Sherman law is a limitation of rights, rights which may be pushed to evil consequences and therefore restrained."
The difference between legitimate use and prohibited abuse of the restrictions incident to the ownership of patents by the pooling of them is discussed in Standard Oil Co. v. United States, 283 U.S. 163. Application of the tests there announced sustains the District Court's decision. It is clear that, by cooperative arrangements and binding agreements, the appellant corporations, over a period of years, regulated and suppressed competition in the use of glassmaking machinery and employed their
joint patent position to allocate fields of manufacture and to maintain prices of unpatented glassware.
The explanations offered by the appellants are unconvincing. It is said, on behalf of Hartford, that its business, in its inception, was lawful and within the patent laws; and that, in order to protect its legitimate interests as holder of patents for automatic glass machinery, it was justified in buying up and fencing off improvement patents, the grant of which, while leaving the fundamental inventions untouched, would hamper their use unless tribute were paid to the owners of the so-called improvements which, of themselves, had only a nuisance value.
The explanation fails to account for the offensive and defensive alliance of patent owners with its concomitant stifling of initiative, invention, and competition.
Nor can Owens' contention prevail that it long ago abandoned any cooperation with the other corporate defendants and has been free of any trammel to unrestricted competition either in the machinery or glass field. Owens remained active in the association. It remained dominant in the suction field. It continued in close touch with Hartford and with other large manufacturers of glassware who were parties to the conspiracy. The District Court was justified in finding that the mere cancellation of the written word was not enough, in the light of subsequent conduct, to acquit Owens of further participation in the conspiracy.
Individual appellants, except Collins, Fulton, Fisher, and Dilworth, who were officers or directors of corporate appellants each did one or more acts, such as negotiating, voting for, or executing agreements which constituted steps in the progress of the conspiracy. To this extent they participated in violations of the statutes. Some were more active and played a more responsible role than others.
The Government sought the dissolution of Hartford. The court, however, decided that a continuance of certain of Hartford's activities would be of advantage to the glass industry and denied, for the time being, that form of relief. The court was of opinion, however, that the long series of transactions and the persistent manifestations of a purpose to violate the antitrust statutes required the entry of a decree which would preclude the resumption of unlawful practices. It was faced, therefore, with the difficult problem of awarding an injunction which would insure the desired end without imposing punishments or other sanctions for past misconduct, a problem especially difficult in view of the status and relationship of the parties.
At the trial the Government stated that in this suit it was not attacking the validity of any patent or claiming any patent had been awarded an improper priority.
At the time of the District Court's decision, Hartford had reduced the royalties of all its licensees to its then schedule of standard royalties so that all stood on an equal basis so far as license fees were concerned. Government counsel did not assert, or attempt to prove, that these royalties were not reasonable in amount.
Owens, as respects suction invention licenses, had removed all restrictive clauses; Hartford had done the same with respect to all its glass machinery licenses and so had Hartford and Lynch with respect to forming machine licenses. At the moment, therefore, no licensee was restricted either as to kind or quantity of glassware it might manufacture by use of the patented machines, ...