The free-market economy encourages competition among companies, and business competition works to the benefit of consumers in the form of lower prices and better quality of goods and services. When companies get together to fix prices, allocate market share, or take other actions that dampen competition, consumers suffer. Businesses playing by the rules and trying to honestly compete suffer as well. State and federal laws alike prohibit anti-competitive activities such as price-fixing, bid rigging, and monopolistic practices.
Government agencies and watchdogs can take action against corporate wrongdoers, but they need help. Many laws allow individuals to band together when they’ve been harmed by unfair business practices that restrain trade and the free market. The Kalfayan Law Firm excels in fighting monopolies and other anti-competitive behavior by bringing antitrust class actions in California and nationwide. If you believe you have been exposed to or uncovered anticompetitive practices in violation of the nation’s antitrust laws, contact the Kalfayan Law Firm for a free consultation regarding your potential claims and how we can help.
Below is a look at some of the main antitrust laws in the U.S.
The Sherman Act
This law goes back to 1890 but remains the main antitrust law in America today. The Sherman Antitrust Act prohibits activities that place unreasonable restraints on trade. Common examples of prohibited activity include:
Monopolies – When a single manufacturer or seller controls the marketplace and keeps other companies from offering the same product to consumers
Price-fixing – When competitors get together to set prices, rather than letting prices be set by the free market and competition
Bid-rigging – When companies that are supposedly in a competitive bidding process conspire beforehand to determine which of them will win the bid
Exclusive dealing – When a seller agrees to sell all of its product to one buyer or a buyer agrees to buy all of its product from one seller
Price discrimination – When a seller prices the same product differently in different markets to force customers to pay the most the seller thinks they can get
Dividing markets – When two or more companies split up territories where they will conduct business to limit competition in each market, driving up prices for consumers
The Sherman Act includes criminal sanctions as well as civil penalties, but determining when an activity that arguably restrains trade is unreasonable or not can be a complex matter. Some restraints on trade, such as covenants not to compete, are lawful so long as they are reasonable. A skilled and experienced antitrust litigator at the Kalfayan Law Firm is willing to meet with you and evaluate your case.
The Clayton Act
The Clayton Antitrust Act of 1914 is geared toward prohibiting mergers and acquisitions that would substantially reduce competition or even create a monopoly. Before certain M&A transactions can go through, the companies must first submit the deal to the Federal Trade Commission or Department of Justice for review and approval.
The Federal Trade Commission Act (FTCA)
This law is reminiscent of state consumer protection laws like the California Consumer Legal Remedies Act (CLRA). The FTCA prohibits “unfair or deceptive acts or practices” and “unfair methods of competition.” Unlike the CLRA, however, the FTCA doesn’t define what those acts or practices are or provide examples of unlawful conduct. Some actions, such as violating the Sherman Act or creating a horizontal or vertical monopoly, clearly fall within the purview of the FTCA. Enforcement of the act is given over to the federal government, and courts so far have not recognized a private right of action to sue for violations of the law. Cases involving FTCA violations require a thorough review and analysis from an experienced antitrust litigation lawyer to determine whether a private right of action, including class action, might exist under some other applicable law.
Contact An Experienced Antitrust Litigator at the Kalfayan Law Firm Today
The Kalfayan Law Firm is committed to putting an end to unfair business practices that restrain trade and the free market at the consumer’s expense. We seek justice, accountability, and compensation to the people who have been harmed by these illicit practices. If you believe you have been victimized by conduct prohibited under antitrust laws in California or nationwide, call the Kalfayan Law Firm for a free consultation.