A case involving a bitter seven year dispute over protecting the best interests of a well know breed of dog, a purported "blacklisting" of former dog owners by a national dog club and the marking of dogs as exhibits during a district court trial may finally be over. On May 17, 2005, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a publishedopinion in The Jack Russell Terrier Network of Northern California ("Terrier Network") v. American Kennel Club ("AKC") affirming a judgment in favor of The Jack Russell Terrier Club of America ("JRTCA"), the leading breed club for Jack Russell Terriers ("JRTs") in the country. The Terrier Network sued to overturn the JRTCA's policy of restricting its membership and trials to owners of JRTs who had not registered their dogs with the AKC, asserting on appeal the existence of a group boycott in violation offederal anti-trust law and a false advertising claim under the Lanham Act.
The Ninth Circuit rejected these arguments noting that the case involved a philosophical dispute over whether AKC recognition of the JRT breed was in the best interests of the dog, concluding that the JRTCA's restrictive policy was legal under federal law. In a case of first impression, the court held that the common economic interests of the JRTCA and its codefendant affiliate clubs precluded them from conspiring to violatethe Sherman Act under the so-called "single entity" rule. It also held that the Terrier Network lacked standing to sue the JRTCA under the "false advertising" prong of the Lanham Act because it was not a direct competitor of the JRTCA.