Two federal appellate decisions came out today on antitrust issues, both in the realm of monopolization law:
In Hydril Co. LP v. Grant Pride LP, No. 2006-1188 (Fed. Cir. Jan. 25, 2007) (opinion here), a 2-1 panel reinstated Hydril’s claim that Grant Pride monopolized the markets for drill pipe and drill pipe connections by threatening to enforce a patent that it knew it procured by fraud. The Federal Circuit held that Hydril stated a "Walker Process fraud" claim under Walker Process Equipment Co. v. Food Machinery & Chemical Corp., 382 U.S. 172 (1965), and sent the case back to the district court.
A unanimous Eighth Circuit went the other way in HDC Medical, Inc. v. Minntech Corp., No. 06-1638 (8th Cir. Jan. 25, 2007) (opinion here). HDC alleged that Minntech monopolized the market for "dialyzer reprocessing solutions" by changing Minntech’s "dialyzer reprocessing machine" so that HDC’s solution would no longer work with the machine. (Dialyzer reprocessing machines use dialyzer reprocessing solution to sanitize multiple-use dialyzers, which filter blood waste products.) HDC also claimed that Minntech manipulated its warranty and engaged in other anti-competitive conduct.
The district court granted summary judgment for Minntech, and the Eighth Circuit affirmed, holding that HDC did not provide evidence necessary to show the relevant product market (specifically that multiple-use dialyzers and single-use dialyzers did not compete) and that HDC’s failure to rebut Minntech’s business justifications for its warranty manipulation and other conduct precluded a finding of anticompetitive behavior.