Defendant Improv West ("Improv") is the founder and owner of the Improv Comedy Club trademark. It entered into an agreement with Comedy Club International ("CCI") providing that: 1) CCI had an exclusive right to use the "Improv" name to open comedy clubs in the United States, 2) CCI had to open four clubs a year for the first three years, and 3) CCI was prohibited from opening comedy clubs under any other name until the agreement expired in 2019.
CCI failed to open the requisite number of clubs. Improv immediately cancelled CCI's right to use the Improv name, began opening its own clubs, and sought to enforce the non-compete for the term of the agreement because CCI continued to run established Improv clubs.
The court ruled that the agreement did not violate anti-trust laws, because it didn't reduce the competitiveness of the comedy market substantially. The Court did say that it would enforce the no-compete agreement only in markets where new CCI clubs would directly hurt Improv profits, since California state law bans extreme no-compete contracts.
What the courts try to do in a case like this is to see whether the contract will end up destroying value (by reducing existing competition in the market) or increase it (by allowing two firms to help each other improve their product or reduce their costs.
California law, however, says the state will not enforce agreements not to compete that block competition in a substantial section of the market, so the Court ruled that CCI was only blocked from opening new clubs in counties where it already was operating an Improv club.