If you are being investigated for alleged violation of Antitrust Law in Massachusetts, contact an experience criminal defense lawyer. Contact O’Brien Law Boston. Antitrust law in the United States functions at both a federal and state level, and is designed to promote market competition and to protect consumers. This set of laws prohibits gaining and keeping monopolies and restraint of trade, in order to encourage competition in the marketplace. Monopoly power arises when one company impairs its rivals in a particular area of the market. A monopoly is categorized as either de facto or de jure. De facto monopolies are the type which the antitrust laws apply to (ex: Microsoft in the late 1990s), while de jure monopolies are protected from competition by the law (ex: the United States Postal Service and non-overnight letters). Antitrust laws focus on four major sections, which include agreements between competitors, contracts between sellers and buyers, mergers and monopolies.
Within antitrust law, there are distinct applications for single-firm and multi-firm conduct. In the United States, the Sherman Anti-Trust Act condemns monopolies that have been created or maintained due to prohibited conduct. For multi-firm conduct, all contracts and conspiracies that restrain trade and/or commerce are prohibited.
The following are examples of the most scrutinized forms of antitrust violations:
Price Fixing: This occurs when business competitors selling the same product or service make an agreement about their pricing.
Bid Rigging: This falls under price fixing, and combines both price fixing and market allocation where one party in the group of bidders is pre-designated to win.
Geographic Market Allocation: This occurs when competitors agree not to do business and compete in each other’s locales.
Walker Process Fraud: This is the illegal monopolization that occurs through the maintenance and enforcement of patents that have been fraudulently received from the Patent Office.
Enforcement of these laws often come from the federal government, and from the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission, to be exact. Both of these can bring civil lawsuits, while the Department of Justice is the only one allowed to bring criminal suits under the federal laws. Previous suits include the one in the 1980s breaking up AT&T’s monopoly on local telephone services. In addition to bringing suit, the government also conducts reviews of potential business mergers and acquisitions to avoid market concentration. If large companies would like to merge, they are required under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvement Act to notify the FTC and Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division first. These agencies review potential mergers, making sure that the market power of the company won’t be set it up to become a monopoly.
Speak with a Boston Criminal Defense Lawyer at 617-512-0939
Antitrust violations are investigated by the FBI and the Department of Justice. If you think that you are being investigated for a criminal antitrust violation, it is important to call a lawyer as soon as possible. Call Francis T. O’Brien Jr. of O’Brien Law Boston today at 617-512-0939. There will be no fee to discuss your case, and all information will be kept confidential.