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In Anticipation of Korean Curt Flood: Comparative Analysis of Antitrust and Labor Law Implications on Korean Professional Baseball League

Sungho Cho (Bowling Green State University), Dal-Young Chang (Apex, LLC) 

Abstract: This project is a comparative inquiry of Korean competition and labor law and their counterparts in the U.S. in terms of their implications on respective baseball leagues.  The study first explains basic notions of U.S. antitrust jurisprudence in terms of its public policy and doctrinal relationship with labor law.  Landmark cases in sports are highlighted.  It focuses on how the law has defined labor relations between leagues and unions.  Secondly, the jurisprudence of Korean competition law is introduced in the context of its impacts on Korean professional baseball league.  It analyzes the applicability of Koran competition law to professional sports in conjunction with labor issues.  The paper specifically discusses whether U.S. case law might have any precedential effect on Korean antitrust cases.  It seeks to extrapolate the future of Korean baseball league in terms of dynamics of labor relations between the league and players. 

Section 1 of Sherman Act states that: “[e]very contract … or conspiracy, in restraint of trade … is declared to be illegal.”  Given the statute, U.S. Supreme Court has developed two rules, i.e., per se and rule of reason analysis.  If court finds that a defendant’s conduct is inherently anticompetitive, e.g., horizontal price fixing, per se rule is applied. U.S. v. Trenton Potteries Co., 273 U.S. 392 (1927).  When an alleged anticompetitive conduct might be procompetitive depending upon its contexts, e.g., vertical price fixing, rule of reason is the law. NCAA v. Board of Regents of Univ. Oklahoma, 468 U.S. 85 (1984).  As the law is a main statutory authority against cartel activities, it frequently comes into play in labor disputes between professional sport leagues and unions.  Korean antitrust regulations were enacted in 1975 and currently codified in Monopoly Regulation and Fair Trade Act.  Under the law, Korean Fair Trade Commission has the primary enforcement authority against anticompetitive acts.  While recent cases are instructive, the jurisprudence of antitrust regulations has not been fully developed in the area of Korean professional sports.

Given the paucity and magnitude, this project explores U.S. and Korean antitrust jurisprudence and extrapolates how Korean competition law would work in Korean professional baseball industry.