Noerr-Pennington Doctrine Law and Legal Definition

Noerr-Pennington Doctrine is a doctrine based on the First Amendment right of petition that exempts from antitrust liability the joint efforts of businesses to petition or influence government bodies provided that such activities are not sham.

The doctrine derives from a line of Supreme Court cases beginning with Eastern R. Presidents Conference v. Noerr Motor Freight, Inc., 365 U.S. 127 (U.S. 1961) and United Mine Workers v. Pennington, 381 U.S. 657 (U.S. 1965)

In general, an effort to influence the exercise of government power, even for the purpose of gaining an anticompetitive advantage, does not create liability under the antitrust laws. However, the Noerr-Pennington doctrine does not protect litigation from suit under the antitrust laws if the litigation is a sham.