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What You Need To Know About Antitrust

What You Need To Know About Antitrust

The European Union's head for antitrust handed down a $5 billion fine against Google on July 18, 2018, for blocking competition on its Android-phone system. The decision follows a fine of about $2.5 billion handed down in 2017 for unfairly blocking competitors on its shopping service. While this represents just a very small fraction of Google's reserve cash, it does point out that business people everywhere need to consider antitrust laws.

Antitrust Laws in the United States

There are four major antitrust laws that businesses need to pay attention to in the United States. They are the:

Sherman Act- Originally passed in 1890, this law is viewed as the most important antitrust law currently on the books. It prohibits companies from combining together or conspiring together to create monopolies eliminating competition for a particular good or service.

Federal Trade Commission Act- Originally passed in 1914, this law stops deceptive business methods and unfair methods of competition. Furthermore, it establishes the Federal Trade Commission to oversee cases of antitrust in the United States.

Clayton Act- In many ways, this law passed in 1914 is a strengthening of the Sherman Act to prevent the formation of monopolies. Furthermore, it declares that the company board of directors need to have different people on them so that no one benefits from inside knowledge.

Robinson-Patman Act- Originally passed in 1936, this bill stops big corporations from demanding volume discounts and other advantages that would hurt small businesses.

Daily Applications

There are several different factors that business people need to think about when conducting their day-to-day business.

Price Fixing

Do not enter into an agreement with your competitors about what price you are going to demand on any product. In addition to the price of a product, do not discuss shipping fees, warranties, discount programs or finance rates with your competitors.

Allocation of Customers and Territories

Companies cannot agree to stay out of each other's target markets or establish geographical boundaries. The Federal Trade Commission has found, however, that non-compete clauses are legal when selling a business.

Group Boycott

Businesses are free to do businesses with the providers that they desire as long as they arrive at that decision independently. It is illegal, however, for a group of businesses who have the market power to agree to boycott a business after making the decision in unison.

Exchange of Information

Under the Sherman Act, it is illegal to exchange information. You cannot willingly exchange your price list with your competitors. You should seek legal counsel from a Utah attorney T.R. Spencer Law Office. before you share important information about your customers with your competitors as there are very special federal and Utah laws that apply in these cases.

As a business owner or manager, it is important to keep abreast of antitrust laws as they affect your business. This helps ensure that you will not have to pay fines like Google is paying.

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