Horse cloners Gregg Veneklasen and Jason Abraham
by Pat Raia
The U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has sided with the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) in a long-running case involving the registration of cloned Quarter Horses.
Some owners have used the cloning process—which was first performed on horses in 2003—to preserve their animals’ bloodlines, particularly those of high-performance equines. In response to cloning as a way to preserve bloodlines, some breed associations ruled on whether or not cloned horses can be included in their breed registries.
In 2004 the AQHA board of directors approved Rule 227(a), which prohibits cloned horses or their offspring from being included in the organization’s breed registry. The AQHA opposed the registry of cloned animals on several grounds including that cloning does not improve the breed and that only the most elite horses may be cloned over and over again for use in breeding programs.
Subsequently Jason Abraham and two of his related companies, Abraham & Veneklasen Joint Venture and Abraham Equine Inc., filed suit against the AQHA asking the court to order the AQHA to remove Rule 227(a) on grounds that the ban on registering cloned horses and their offspring violates antitrust laws.
A federal district court jury later found that the rule preventing the registration of cloned Quarter Horses violated state and federal antitrust rules, and a judge signed an order requiring the AQHA to allow cloned animals to be registered. In response, the AQHA filed another federal lawsuit asking that the ruling be overturned.
In January 2015, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the District Court’s decision. Subsequently, Abraham & Veneklasen Joint Venture and Abraham Equine Inc. asked the appeals court to rehear the case.
On Oct. 26, the Court of Appeals denied the petition for a rehearing, according to a written statement on the AQHA website. Specifically, the court ruled that the appeals court opinion held that the plaintiffs’ evidence did not prove a conspiracy to restrain trade and that “AQHA is not a competitor in the allegedly relevant market for elite Quarter Horses.”
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