Federal and state antitrust laws were enacted to promote competition by making certain anticompetitive activity illegal. Anticompetitive activity occurs when a company abuses its monopoly power or engages in conduct that prevents competition or restrains market trade in order to remain a market leader in a particular area. Examples of anticompetitive activity include: horizontal price-fixing (i.e., two or more competitors agree on what price to charge or pay); vertical price-fixing (i.e., seller and buyer agree at what price product should be resold); market allocation (two competitors agree not to compete in a particular area or product); predatory pricing (i.e., a company lowers prices below cost to drive a competitor out of business); tying (i.e., requiring a buyer to purchase something that he or she does not want in order to buy something that he or she does want); exclusive franchise agreements (i.e., a seller grants a buyer the exclusive right to resell a product or service); and territorial and customer restrictions (i.e., a seller grants a buyer the exclusive right to resell in a particular territory or to a particular customer).
The federal antitrust laws generally limit damages to businesses or individuals who purchased goods or services directly from the person or company that violates the antitrust laws. Since most products and services are sold through distributors, wholesalers, or retailers, most claims under the federal antitrust laws are brought by businesses, not consumers or other end-users. Many state antitrust laws, however, allow consumers and other end-users to recover damages resulting from anticompetitive conduct, even if they did not purchase goods or services directly from the person or company that violates the antitrust laws.
Bernstein Liebhard LLP, under the leadership of Stanley D. Bernstein, represents individuals and businesses that have been the victims of anticompetitive activity. If you believe you have been injured as a result of, or have information about, an antitrust violation, contact us here.