Antitrust Laws Make Anti-Competitive Behavior Illegal
No introduction to antitrust law would be complete without addressing mergers and acquisitions. We can divide them into horizontal, vertical and potentially competitive mergers. Sign up to receive the latest news, resources, and updates on antitrust-related events. The scope of antitrust laws and the extent to which they should interfere with a company`s freedom to operate or protect small businesses, communities and consumers is hotly debated. Some economists argue that antitrust laws do impede competition and discourage companies from engaging in activities that would be beneficial to society. One view suggests that antitrust law should focus solely on consumer benefits and overall efficiency, while a wide range of legal and economic theories view the role of antitrust law as a control of economic power in the public interest.  A 2011 survey of 568 members of the American Economic Association (AEA) found that a majority of 87% of respondents largely agreed with the statement “antitrust laws should be vigorously enforced.”  The Sherman Act prohibits “any contract, combination or conspiracy to restrict trade” and any “monopolization, attempted monopolization, conspiracy or combination to monopolize.” A long time ago, the Supreme Court ruled that the Sherman Act does not prohibit any restrictions on trade, but only those that are unreasonable. For example, an agreement between two people to form a partnership restricts trade in one direction, but must not do so inappropriately and may therefore be legal under antitrust laws. On the other hand, some actions are considered so harmful to competition that they are almost always illegal. This includes clear agreements between competing individuals or companies to set prices, divide markets or manipulate offers. These acts constitute violations “in themselves” of the Sherman Act; In other words, no defence or justification is allowed. The dual application of antitrust law by the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission has long raised concerns about the different treatment of mergers.
In response, the House Judiciary Committee approved the Smarter Act in September 2014.  Attorneys General can sue to enforce state and federal antitrust laws. In short, the financial decline of a competitor is not the same as the elimination of competition. Courts have long praised the distinction economists make between competition – a set of economic conditions – and existing competitors, although it is difficult to see what difference this has made in court decisions. Too often, it seems, if you have harmed competitors, you have harmed competition as far as judges are concerned.  Many countries have comprehensive laws in place to protect consumers and regulate how businesses do business. The aim of these laws is to create a level playing field for similar companies operating in a particular sector, while preventing them from gaining too much power over their competitors. Simply put, they prevent companies from gambling dirty in order to make a profit. These are called antitrust laws.
Penalties for violating the Sherman Act can be severe. While most enforcement actions are civil, the Sherman Act is also a criminal law, and individuals and businesses that violate it can be prosecuted by the Department of Justice. Criminal prosecution is usually limited to intentional and unambiguous violations, for example when competitors set prices or rig offers. The Sherman Act imposes criminal penalties of up to $100 million for a company and $1 million for an individual, as well as up to 10 years in prison. Under federal law, the maximum penalty can be increased to double the amount conspirators earned from illegal acts, or double the money lost by victims of the crime if any of those amounts exceed $100 million. Anti-competitive practices are generally considered illegal only if they lead to a significant lessening of competition, which is why, in order to be penalised for any form of anti-competitive behaviour, an undertaking must generally be a monopoly or dominant undertaking in a duopoly or oligopoly that has significant influence on the market. Let`s take a quick look at the major antitrust laws in the United States. The core of U.S. antitrust law was created by three laws: the Sherman Anti-Trust Act of 1890, the Federal Trade Commission Act — which also created the FTC — and the Clayton Antitrust Act. 1999 sued a coalition of 19 states and the Microsoft Federal Department of Justice.  A highly noticed process revealed that Microsoft had heavily armed many companies to prevent competition from the Netscape browser.  In 2000, the trial court ordered Microsoft to split into two parts to protect it from future misconduct.
  The Court of Appeal partially upheld and partially reversed it.