In the late 1800s, Congress passed the Sherman Antitrust Act which was intended to help reduce the dominance of certain markets by only a few companies. The law only applied to interstate commerce, so states quickly adopted their own antitrust laws. Florida was passed in 1980 and is known as the Florida Antitrust Act. As a result of passing these laws, companies that are accused of using certain business practices are often accused of antitrust violations that can have devastating personal and financial consequences for defendants. If you are being investigated for an antitrust violation, either at the state level or by federal investigators.
What is a monopoly?
Antitrust laws were first enacted in an effort to stunt the growth of monopolies, which are defined as concentrations of economic power in the hands of only a few corporations or individuals. Economists and legislators are wary of monopolies and the administration, as this type of control is believed to lead to anti-competitive practices, which in turn leads to price controls and eventual stagnation of economic growth. The Sherman Antitrust Act and other federal laws were created specifically to prevent this type of conduct in interstate commerce.
Before a person can be charged with a federal antitrust violation, prosecutors must prove that the conduct in question involved interstate commerce. When this condition is met, prosecutors must present evidence that the defendant was involved in one of the following prohibited activities:
- Choose in the price among the different buyers when the products are of the same grade and quality
- Offer a discount or refund on goods or merchandise on condition that the buyer does not use or negotiate the goods or services of a competitor
- Make arrangements between competing companies to divide a market or create an offer
- Create an interconnected direction in which a person makes business decisions for competing companies
- Create a merger or acquisition that substantially reduces competition.
The penalties for violating federal antitrust laws can be severe, since the Sherman Act is both a civil and criminal law. However, criminal proceedings are often limited to clear and intentional violations, such as pricing. Companies that are convicted of violating federal antitrust laws face fines of up to $ 100 million, while individuals can be fined up to $ 1 million and sentenced to up to ten years in prison. These fines can be increased to twice the amount that the defendants obtained from the violation or double the funds lost by the alleged victims, if the amount exceeds $ 100 million. Another federal law, Known as the Clayton Act, it also allows individuals to sue companies for triple damages when they have been harmed by illegal anti-competitive conduct. Plaintiffs can also obtain a court order that prohibits a company from using similar practices in the future.
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