Host Intern’l, Inc. v.Marketplace PHL, LLC

“We only serve Pepsi here.” The Third Circuit ruled that the plaintiff lacked antitrust standing and did not adequately plead a violation of Section 1 of the Sherman Act. After a competitive bidding process, Host International won two concession spots at Philadelphia International Airport (PHL). But negotiations between Host and MarketPlace, which runs PHL, for a lease hit a wall when MarketPlace insisted on a term allowing it to enter into agreements granting third parties exclusive or semi-exclusive rights to be sole providers of certain foods, beverages, or other types of products. That included a pouring-rights agreement (PRA), granting a beverage manufacturer, bottler, distributor, or other company (e.g., Pepsi or Coca-Cola) exclusive control over beverage products advertised, sold, and served at PHL. Host balked and demanded that the PRA be left out. MarketPlace refused, and Host walked away from the deal and into federal court. Host based its suit on two theories: 1) an unlawful tying arrangement in violation of Section 1 of the Sherman Act; and 2) an illegal conspiracy and agreement in restraint of trade, another Section 1 violation. MarketPlace moved to dismiss the complaint. The District Court granted the motion. Host appealed, and the Third Circuit affirmed.

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