The workings of antitrust laws are often overlooked by most consumers. Yet, antitrust laws play an important role in the functioning of our society. Without such laws in place businesses could place unreasonable prices on products. Larger firms would also be able to edge out "mom and pop" businesses from the market. Utah's version of antitrust laws protect consumers and businesses alike in many ways.
What is Antitrust About?
Antitrust laws are part of the the greater subject of business law. They work to prevent companies from conspiring with others to rule a particular market. In the past, collusion has allowed participating companies to gain an unfair advantage. Companies fixed prices at unreasonable rates in a greedy grab for profits. Utah's antitrust prohibitions work to prevent this type of unfair business practice.
This area of law also addresses businesses that create a monopoly. Monopolies occur when a single owner (or firm) owns a substantial number of the competing firms in a market. This hurts businesses and consumers by taking away competitive pricing. The law prohibits both horizontal and vertical monopolies.
Antitrust in State and Federal Law
A business law attorney deals with both state and federal regulations on antitrust. Federal law includes the Sherman Antitrust Act and the Clayton Antitrust Act. Utah law regulates antitrust under Utah Code 76-10-31, et seq. Under Utah's version either a private citizen or the state attorney general can bring a lawsuit against a business. A private individual may seek injunctive relief or treble damages. The state attorney can obtain injunctive relief, damages or impose a civil penalty.
Violating antitrust law is a also a crime. Those found in violation can be guilty of a felony. A corporate defendant can be fined millions of dollars. An individual corporate officer can receive a prison sentence for three years.
Utah's law specifies a few activities that constitute antitrust. First, any trust or conspiracy that seeks to restrain commerce or trade is deemed illegal. Secondly, it is illegal to monopolize or attempt to engage in such activity. It is also prohibited to conspire with others to create a monopoly.
Specific scenarios that signal antitrust activity consist of the following:
- Unfair mergers and acquisitions
- Bundling one product with another
- Pricing items below cost
- Rigging Bids
- Creating cartels in a market
- Price discrimination strategies
These are just some of the antitrust areas that may require the assistance of a business attorney.
Getting Help from an Antitrust Lawyer
Antitrust cases are some of the most complicated matters in business law. In fact, most businesses can benefit from receiving legal advice in regard to antitrust. A business lawyer can help your firm by evaluating its business practices to ensure compliance with the law. This includes reviewing contractual agreements with other firms and negotiating settlements in antitrust lawsuits.
Spencer and Jensen, PLLC is ready to assist you with any antitrust issue. Whether you are a business in need of antitrust defense, or a private citizen seeking recourse the firm's experienced attorneys are prepared to review your case. Get help with antitrust or other business law issues by calling today.