What are Antitrust Laws?
A Philadelphia commercial law attorney provides assistance to your business in explaining the laws that can apply to your company. There are many different laws that regulate the process of doing business. For example, antitrust laws could control your ability to merge with competitors or to engage in behaviors which are defined as unfair competition that interferes with markets.
Antitrust laws are applied on a case-by-case basis, so companies are not always clear on whether a particular merger or other business behavior constitutes a violation of antitrust laws. Our legal team can provide you with assistance in understanding when and how antitrust laws apply to your professional activity. We also assist you in understanding all other state and federal rules that could affect your operations and that protect your company’s rights. Give Curley & Rothman, LLC a call today to talk with a Philadelphia commercial law attorney to find out more about how an attorney can assist your business.
What are Antitrust Laws?
Antitrust laws are laws that are aimed at protecting free markets and promoting fair competition. The Federal Trade Commission explains the antitrust laws that apply to companies throughout the United States. According to the FTC: “antitrust laws proscribe unlawful mergers and business practices in general terms, leaving courts to decide which ones are illegal based on the facts of each case.”
There are three core antitrust laws passed by the federal government and applicable in Pennsylvania and throughout the United States. These laws include:
- The Sherman Act
The Sherman Act was the first antitrust law passed by congress and it dates back to 1980. It prohibits unreasonable restraints on trade. This can include: “every contract, combination, or conspiracy in restraint of trade” as well as any “monopolization, attempted monopolization, or conspiracy or combination to monopolize.” Price fixing, bid rigging, and dividing of markets are considered per se violations of the Sherman Act, which means that if you engage in any of these behaviors, you have violated antitrust law.
There are also other behaviors which could be considered violations of the Sherman Act, depending upon the specific facts involved. There are severe penalties for Sherman Act violations, including criminal penalties of up to $100 million for corporations and $1 million for individuals. Those who violate the Sherman Act could also face up to 10 years imprisonment.
Because of the severe penalties and the broad range of behaviors which the Sherman Act forbids, it is important for companies to talk with a Philadelphia commercial law attorney about what exactly the Sherman Act prohibits. You do not accidentally want to commit a Sherman Act violation and an attorney can assist you in making certain that none of your business conduct crosses the line into a violation of this federal law.
- The Clayton Act
The Clayton Act specifically addresses mergers. It also prohibits interlocking directorates, which is a situation where the same person makes business decisions for companies that are in direct competition. A merger will be prohibited by the Clayton Act if the merger has the effect of creating a monopoly or of substantially lessening competition.
- The Federal Trade Commission Act
Th Federal Trade Commission Act prohibits unfair or deceptive practices, and prohibits unfair methods of competition. The Federal Trade Commission is the only one that can bring cases under the FTC. The FTC covers a lot of different types of prohibited behaviors that are also forbidden under the Sherman Act, as well as other practices that interfere with competition but that are not expressly prohibited by the Sherman Act.
Getting Help from A Philadelphia Commercial Law Attorney
Antitrust laws are just one of many examples of different laws that apply to govern business decisions and to impact the rights and the obligations of businesses. Your company must make certain that you are in compliance with all state and federal regulations so you do not face investigations, fines or other serious penalties.
Because there are so many different laws regulating how companies operate, it is beneficial for every business to be represented by an experienced Philadelphia commercial law attorney who can assist the company in decision-making and in governing their conduct to comply with rules and regulations.
Curley & Rothman, LLC advises companies of all sizes in and around the Philadelphia area. We can help not just with compliance with anti-laws, but with broad advice to ensure your company is always following the regulations applicable to your organization. Give us a call at 610-834-8819 or contact us to find out more about how an attorney can help you.