Netflix Wins Summary Judgment Dismissal Of Consumer Class Antitrust Claims

Plaintiff Netflix subscribers alleged that Netflix and Wal-Mart violated Sections 1 and 2 of the Sherman Act by entering into to a horizontal market allocation agreement. In re: Online DVD Rental Antitrust Litigation, No. M 09-2029 PJH, Order Granting Motion For Summary Judgment (N.D. Cal. Nov. 22, 2011). Netflix and Walmart entered into a Promotion Agreement under which Netflix would rent but not sell DVDs online, and Walmart would sell but not rent DVDs online. Walmart would promote DVD rentals by Netflix, and Netflix would promote the sale of DVDs by Walmart.

The Promotion Agreement stated that Walmart had previously decided to exit the online rental business, which it did after entering into the Agreement. Netflix paid to acquire Walmart rental customers. Netflix had stopped selling DVDs online prior to the creation of the Agreement. The Agreement also stated that Wal-Mart could reenter the online rental business if it chose to do so.

Plaintiffs claimed that their injury arose from Walmart’s exit from the rental business, which allegedly left Netflix free to charge supracompetitive prices to consumers for DVD rentals, which it allegedly did.

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