Antitrust law protects competition in the marketplace. Without it, markets would often be dominated by monopolies or price-fixing cartels. Consumers would be overcharged for products; small businesses would be denied access to affordable supplies or essential markets; and innovative products and technologies would fail to develop. For that reason, antitrust enforcement is vital to safeguarding the societal benefits of free markets and leveling the playing field for entrepreneurs and locally-owned businesses.
Handley Farah & Anderson develops and litigates antitrust class actions around the country. Our lawyers have substantial experience prosecuting claims against major corporations that conspired to eliminate competition or improperly acquired monopolies. Our lawyers have sued antitrust violators in a diverse range of industries, including agriculture, building materials, pharmaceuticals, chemicals and financial services. In these and other cases, our lawyers have halted harmful anticompetitive practices and recovered hundreds of millions of dollars for consumers, small businesses, governments and other purchasers. For that reason, our lawyers have been recognized by their peers and publications as some of the nation’s top antitrust litigators.
Types of Antitrust Violations
The antitrust laws prohibit two types of misconduct: agreements between businesses to eliminate competition and conduct by a single business to unlawfully monopolize a market.
The most common unlawful agreements are those between businesses seeking to eliminate competition. These agreements often take one of three forms: (1) agreements to fix prices, rather than compete for customers by lowering prices; (2) agreements to divide up markets so that each competitor can dominate (and inflate prices in) different parts of the market; and (3) agreements not to compete for employees, which has the effect of depressing wages. These agreements are typically reached in secret by senior executives and are presumptively unlawful.
As for monopolies, the mere fact that a corporation dominates a market is not, in and of itself, unlawful. If a business develops an innovative product that triumphs over its competition, no antitrust law has been broken. However, the law prohibits improper conduct to acquire or maintain a monopoly. Improper conduct includes: (1) predatory pricing to eliminate competitors; (2) exclusive contracts with suppliers or buyers that prevent competitors from accessing those suppliers or buyers; (3) acquiring or merging with competitors to eliminate rivals; (4) forcing customers to buy one product in order to access another monopolized product; and (5) bribing potential competitors to stay out of the market.