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What was the legal case United States v. United States Gypsum Co. et al. about?

The case was a landmark antitrust lawsuit brought by the U.S.

government against several major gypsum board manufacturers in the late 1940s.

The Supreme Court first ruled in 1948 that the companies' patent licensing program, which fixed prices among many licensees, violated the Sherman Antitrust Act.

After a remand to the district court, the Supreme Court ruled in 1950 that the companies' patent license agreements were in restraint of trade and violated antitrust laws.

The case established that patent holders cannot use their patents to fix resale prices or control the pricing decisions of licensees.

The Court rejected the companies' argument that their actions were shielded by the patent laws, ruling that patents do not provide an "exception or immunity" from antitrust laws.

The case led to a modified final judgment in 1951 that required the companies to license their patents on a royalty-free, nonexclusive basis.

This compulsory licensing provision was intended to restore competition in the gypsum board industry that had been suppressed by the companies' anticompetitive practices.

The case helped establish the principle that the patent monopoly cannot be used to extend control over an industry beyond the scope of the patent grant.

It was an important precedent in the development of the "patent misuse" doctrine, which limits the permissible ways patent holders can exploit their monopolies.

The case highlighted tensions between antitrust laws and patent laws, and the need to balance rewarding innovation with preventing monopolistic abuses.

The Supreme Court's rulings in the case were influential in shaping antitrust jurisprudence regarding the interplay between patent rights and competition.

The case remains a landmark decision in the field of patent-antitrust law and is frequently cited in academic and judicial discussions of this area.

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