ANTITRUST VIOLATIONS


Nationwide Success
Nationwide Success

Antitrust Violation Lawyer

investigating antitrust & anti-competition violations

The Lyon Firm investigates businesses nationwide who engage in anti-competitive and illegal conduct. Our attorneys represent clients in lawsuits alleging price discrimination, market allocation, anti-poaching, price fixing, bid rigging, group boycotts, wage fixing and tying antitrust violations.

Antitrust laws are meant to protect the very core of economic freedom and opportunity by promoting free and fair competition in the American marketplace. When companies violate pro-competition statutes, they may be held accountable in the court of law.

Most antitrust complaints are filed by one business against another, alleging unfair trade practices, but it also possible for individuals to file antitrust claims.

Competition in a free market benefits American consumers by providing better choice, better quality and better prices. In general, for the consumer, the more competition, the better. That is typically true for the business climate as a whole, providing more opportunity for individuals throughout the marketplace.

The Lyon Firm believes in a fair playing field, unobstructed by anti-competitive and predatory business practices. Antitrust laws apply to almost all industries, including the manufacturing, transportation, distribution, and marketing of goods. Antitrust laws are in place to prohibit the following:

Price Fixing

Price fixing is a behind-the-scenes agreement between competitors to raise or maintain the same prices. Price-fixing lawsuits typically involve illegal agreements to raise prices, but can also involve the change in warranty terms, discount programs, shipping fees or financing rates.

Price fixing is sometimes noticed by chance by consumers as companies prices look suspiciously similar, or when Justice Department investigators find evidence of collusion.

Boycotts

Corporate boycotts take place when two or more companies agree not to purchase goods or services from another business. Such market behaviors can drive up prices, discourage companies from entering certain markets, and unjustly drive companies on the short end of the stick out of business.

Anti-Poaching

The Antitrust Division not only protects consumers and businesses from from unfair competition, but also protects labor markets and employees.

Laws are in place to protect employees from “no poach” agreements and wage-fixing agreements between two or more employers.

When companies agree not to hire or recruit the other’s employees, they are effectively limiting workers’ right to seek competitive wages and employment. Workers are entitled to the benefits of a competitive labor market, including range of job opportunities, and the ability to use competing offers to negotiate their wages and terms of employment.

Such anti-poaching practices may illegally limit the opportunities for employees and may force them to remain in current positions at a wage that may be lower than a competitor might be willing to offer. Of course, anti-poaching is beneficial to companies, as they can delay wage increases, knowing their employees are essentially stuck in place. Victims of anti-poaching agreements are encouraged to seek a labor attorney.

Monopolization

Monopoly is a term increasingly thrown around, and for good reason. Companies often have free reign, while regulation and competition laws are overlooked. A monopoly is where a single business entity grows into such a behemoth that it allows it to dictate consumer prices because it has no viable competition. Regulating smaller companies proves easier and can be more transparent.

Monopolization prevents new competitors from entering the market, because such a task would be too daunting. The federal government and state attorney generals by law can move to break up a monopoly, though that is no simple task.

Antitrust laws should be seen as much protectionist as regulatory, because consumers and competitors are on the losing end if one company deliberately destroys its rivals by controlling supply and pricing.

Predatory Pricing

Predatory pricing is the corporate pricing strategy of undercutting competitors to drive them out of business. Typically only cash-rich, large firms can deliberately cut prices and take losses long enough to drive the competition under, and eventually raise prices when the rest of the firms have gone bankrupt.

As each smaller company is forced to leave the market, and competition is eliminated, the predatory pricing entity can assume the majority of the market and sharply raise prices on consumers. As a general rule, the more companies competing for your business, the better quality and price you will receive for a service or product.

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Refusal to Deal

It might be assumed that any business should be able to choose its business partners. But there are sometimes limits on this market if they assume a great deal of market power. Large, influential firms may have a duty to do business with smaller companies to encourage overall competition.

The refusal to deal with customers or suppliers may be a way to prevent smaller companies from dealing with a rival. Regulators are chiefly concerned with monopolies who refuse to deal with its competitors. This may be confusing, as in general imposing obligations on a company to do business with its rivals almost seems to contradict antitrust principles. But if a company like Amazon, for example, were to refuse to sell a product to a buyer that it makes available to others, they might be in violation of antitrust laws.

Exclusive Dealing Agreements

Exclusive contracts between manufacturers and suppliers are generally lawful because they improve interbrand competition. However, when the firm using exclusive contracts is too dominant in an industry, exclusive dealing contracts may curtail efforts of new firms to compete in the same market.

Antitrust laws condemn any action that aims to that keep rivals out of the market or prevent new, potentially better, products from reaching consumers.

In the past, exclusive supply contracts between pharmaceutical companies and chemical producers have prevented suppliers from selling essential inputs to other buyers. As a result, the FTC stopped a large drug maker from enforcing an exclusive supply agreements for the essential ingredient. Some pharmaceutical companies who do manage to control the market have raised prices by hundreds or thousands of percent.

Exclusive purchase agreements can have similarly detrimental effects on a smaller or newer manufacturer, preventing it from getting its products to consumers so they can properly compare products in quality and price. Exclusive purchase agreements violate antitrust laws if they prevent new firms from competing.

Tying Arrangements

Offering products together as a package can be convenient for consumers at times, and might make sense from a packaging standpoint.

But when are offered ONLY as part of a package, it can be more difficult for consumers to buy only what they want, and make a purchase more expensive.

It is sometimes seen as a “forced sale” when a company ties the purchase of one product to another. Consumers may simply want to purchase one product and not the other. Typically, companies may tie a less desirable product to one that seems essential.

Tying arrangements can also be linked to repair services with several types of consumer technology and industrial machinery. Companies may require customers to use their repair services exclusively, rather than give individuals and companies the option to seek out a more competitive service. 

Bid Rigging

Bid rigging is the illegal coordination among bidders to undermine the fairness of a bidding process. Bid riggers ultimately conspire to raise prices when purchasers attempt to acquire goods or services by searching out competing bids. Some competitors may agree to submit bids that are exorbitantly high to make it appear that an already-high bid is fair and reasonable.

Market Division & Customer Allocation

Market division or customer allocation schemes are agreements between competitors on how to divide a market among themselves, benefiting both companies and limiting consumer choice. Such allocation agreements among competitors to divide territories or assign customer bases are almost always illegal. The arrangements are essentially non-compete agreements, which violate the core of antitrust principles.

Illegal market division can involve allocating percentages of available business to each firm, dividing geographic sales territory, or assigning specific customers to each theoretical seller.


ABOUT THE LYON FIRM

Joseph Lyon has 17 years of experience representing individuals in complex litigation matters. He has represented individuals in every state against many of the largest companies in the world.

The Firm focuses on single-event civil cases and class actions involving corporate neglect & fraud, toxic exposure, product defects & recalls, medical malpractice, and invasion of privacy.

NO COST UNLESS WE WIN

The Firm offers contingency fees, advancing all costs of the litigation, and accepting the full financial risk, allowing our clients full access to the legal system while reducing the financial stress while they focus on their healthcare and financial needs.

 

CONTACT THE LYON FIRM TODAY

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Protect Capitalism & Economic Freedom

Why are Antitrust Lawsuits Important?

Without antitrust lawsuits, large corporate defendants would be able to cause large amounts of harm to consumers and small business without any risk of monetary penalty.

Antitrust violation claims enforce regulatory statutes that keep companies honest and hold them accountable when they deceive the public or fall below acceptable industry standards. 

Antitrust Laws & Violations

In 1890, congress passed the first antitrust law, the Sherman Act, aimed at “preserving free and unfettered competition as the rule of trade.” It was billed as “An Act to Protect Trade and Commerce Against Unlawful Restraints and Monopolies.”

In 1914, Congress passed two other antitrust laws: the Federal Trade Commission Act, which created the FTC, and the Clayton Act. These laws are still the backbone of current antitrust law.

The antitrust laws were broad and written in general terms, leaving courts to consider each individual case. The market has changed in almost every way conceivable since these laws were established, yet the laws still aim to protect competition for the benefit of consumers. The goal is ultimately to keep prices low, and keep quality high.

The Sherman Act focuses on the breaking of monopolies, business collusion and conspiracy. The penalties for Sherman Act violations are strict, and claims can be filed civilly and criminally law. Those in violation may be prosecuted by the Department of Justice. Criminal prosecutions are possible when competitors fix prices or rig bids. The Sherman Act imposes criminal penalties of up to $100 million for a corporation and $1 million for an individual, along with up to 10 years imprisonment.

The Federal Trade Commission Act bans unfair or deceptive methods of competition and business practices. The Supreme Court has said that all violations of the Sherman Act also violate the FTC Act.

The Clayton Act addresses specific practices that the Sherman Act does not clearly prohibit, such as mergers and acquisitions and discriminatory prices. The Clayton Act authorizes private parties to sue for damages when they have been harmed by Sherman or Clayton Act violations.

Antitrust Violation Questions

What is Antitrust Law?

Antitrust laws exists to ensure that no one company, or a group of companies in cahoots, have so much power that they can disrupt the entire competitive market.

Antitrust law gives regulators the power to reign companies in when they grow too large or act in unlawful manners. Some antitrust statutes outlaw specific actions, and may prevent or undo specific results.

What are Common Antitrust Violations?
  • Monopolization
  • Predatory pricing
  • Refusal to Deal
  • Boycotting
  • Exclusive dealing agreements
  • Bid rigging
  • Price fixing
  • Market Division (customer allocation)
  • Anti-poaching (wage fixing)
  • Price discrimination
Who can file an Antitrust Lawsuit?

In many cases, state attorney generals and the Department of Justice will pursue companies who violate antitrust laws. However, private parties can also bring claims to enforce the antitrust laws. Antitrust lawsuits can be brought by small businesses and individuals seeking damages for violations of the Sherman or Clayton Act. Private parties can seek court orders to prevent anti-competitive behaviors or bring suits under state antitrust laws.

What Types of Damages Are Available in an Antitrust Lawsuit?

Anti-competitive law is quite strong as antitrust violations can have a huge impact on individual businesses and the economy as a whole. To discourage companies from pursuing illegal business practices, antitrust law allows courts to award plaintiffs triple the amount of the economic injury.

Who enforces Antitrust Violations?

The FTC and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) Antitrust Division enforce antitrust laws and may take legal action when necessary. The FTC devotes most resources to certain consumer arenas such as health care, pharmaceuticals, food, energy, and technology.

What is Price Discrimination?

The Robinson-Patman Act makes it illegal to offer different pricing to competing buyers for the same “commodity.” Price discrimination may give favored customers an edge in the market that has little to do with their superior business practices. Price discrimination is generally lawful, however. The Supreme Court has ruled that price discrimination claims under the Robinson-Patman Act must meet specific legal tests:

  • The Act applies to commodities, not to services, and to purchases, not to leases.
  • The goods must be of similar grade and quality.
  • There must be clear injury to competition.
  • The sales must include interstate commerce.

The Robinson-Patman Act also forbids certain discriminatory services paid to customers. A seller must in effect treat all competing customers in a proportionately equal manner. Services covered include payment for advertising, handbills, signs, demonstrations, display and storage, special packaging, warehousing facilities, credit returns, and prizes or free promotional merchandise.

What are some Notable Antitrust Settlements?

Visa and Mastercard: Business owners alleged that Visa and Mastercard forced retailers to accept debit cards and pay the same transaction fee as they did on credit cards. A $6.2 billion settlement was reached and Visa and Mastercard were forced to mark their cards to distinguish between debit and credit cards.

Airlines: Several domestic airlines, including, American Airlines, United, Delta and Southwest were accused of conspiring to increase fares by reducing capacity on domestic flights. Southwest and American settled for $15 million and $45 million, while the others involved have not.

Microsoft: Plaintiffs accused Microsoft of engaging in unfair and anti-competitive business practices, overcharging consumers and violating antitrust laws. A settlement of more than $700 million was reached.

What industries are subject to antitrust laws?

The Lyon Firm investigates antitrust and competition claims in the following industries:

  • Agriculture
  • Media
  • Automotive
  • Health care
  • Energy
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Technology
  • Transportation
Why Hire the Lyon Firm?

The attorneys at The Lyon Firm are well-versed in investigating illegal business dealings and antitrust violations. Joe Lyon takes pride in representing victims of unfair business practices, both consumers and business owners. Call for a free and confidential consultation.

The Lyon Firm has filed an antitrust lawsuit against John Deere, which can be read about in this blog post.


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