Antitrust laws prohibit unfair restraints on open competition, which drives the economy.
Antitrust violations usually are bad for consumers because they force people and other companies to pay unreasonably high prices for products and services.
Antitrust violations harm small businesses because they cannot compete with the larger companies.
Aside from affecting individual consumers, these practices raise the cost of doing business and could lead to higher taxes or reduced government services.
If you think you might want to initiate an antitrust lawsuit, here are some answers to questions you might have.
What Is an Antitrust Class Action Lawsuit?
In addition to the Federal Trade Commission, private parties or state attorneys general can pursue an antitrust investigation and antitrust litigation against companies engaging in anticompetitive conduct under either federal or state antitrust laws.
Where the loss to each victim is smaller, the plaintiffs can join together to form an antitrust class action lawsuit.
This type of litigation allows parties to pool their resources. Alone, these individuals or businesses might not have enough damages or resources for it to make sense to initiate litigation.
One or a few named plaintiffs bring a class-action lawsuit on behalf of a large group of similarly situated people, called class members.
Most class actions settle before trial. All class members can recover a portion of the monetary settlement.
What Are Antitrust Laws Examples?
Antitrust laws regulate how corporations may organize and conduct business.
The main federal antitrust laws are the Sherman Antitrust Act, the Clayton Act, and the Federal Trade Commission Act (which created the FTC).
The FTC and the Department of Justice are the government bodies that enforce federal antitrust laws.
Proponents of the laws believe that vigorous enforcement benefits consumers by promoting economic competition.
The Sherman Act outlaws business practices that unreasonably restrain trade or encourage monopolizing, such as price-fixing and bid-rigging.
There are steep penalties for violating the Sherman Act, such as high fines. Individuals and businesses that intentionally violate the Act could also face criminal prosecution.
The Federal Trade Commission Act
The Federal Trade Commission Act bans “unfair” competition or practices. All Sherman Act violations also violate the FTC Act.
The FTC Act is a sort of umbrella that catches any violations that do not fall under the Sherman Act.
The Clayton Act
The Clayton Act also addresses issues not addressed in the Sherman Act. It prohibits mergers and acquisitions that would lessen competition or create a monopoly.
It orders companies planning large mergers to give the government notice of their plans.
Many states have their own antitrust laws, which mirror the federal laws. State laws can be more expansive than federal laws in terms of the conduct they prohibit.
California has several of its own antitrust laws. The Cartwright Act is the primary antitrust law in California.
It contains a more detailed list of prohibited conduct than the Sherman Act. The California Unfair Practices Act prohibits illegal price discrimination and misleading advertising.
What Is a Violation of Antitrust Laws?
Prohibited conduct under antitrust law includes the following:
- Price-fixing—when competitors agree to buy or sell at a fixed price or rate;
- Market division scheme—an agreement between competitors to divide customers, markets, or products among themselves;
- Price discrimination—selling similar goods to buyers at different prices;
- Bid-rigging—competitors agree to affect the outcome of competitive bids, such as taking turns in winning bids;
- Exclusive dealings—when a buyer or seller must deal only with a single supplier;
- Monopolization—a company obtains almost exclusive control over a particular product or service and can raise prices or reduce supply; and
- Tying—requiring a buyer to buy an additional product or service to buy the one they want.
This is not an exhaustive list. Companies can also be guilty of conspiracy to commit the above violations.
Contact Farzam Law Firm with Your Antitrust Litigation Questions
At Farzam Law Firm, we have extensive experience litigating antitrust lawsuits and class actions.
Our litigators know how to navigate the complicated procedural issues that arise with these claims.
We have the experience necessary to take complex claims to trial. We have helped numerous clients with consumer-related legal matters in California.
If you believe you suffered harm because a company violated antitrust laws, or if you are interested in joining an antitrust class action lawsuit, contact us today to learn how we can help you.