What Is Antitrust Law And Should You Worry About It?
Could your business get in trouble for antitrust violations? You may not think so. Antitrust law may sound like something that large multinational companies get in trouble for. Or, you may believe that your business is too small or too “under the radar” to get in trouble for this kind of thing.
But in fact, you can get in trouble for antitrust violations, and they can happen easier than you think. That’s because we live in America, where the free market and competition are part of our heritage. That’s why antitrust laws, which regulate competition, may seem counterintuitive.
Why do Antitrust Laws Exist?
Antitrust laws regulate and limit what you can do to compete—but they do so in order to keep the market fair, and encourage open and free competition. Those may seem like opposite statements and may sound confusing.
Just think of antitrust laws as preventing any one company from getting so big that it exercises its power to squeeze out, limit, or stifle, other, smaller competitors.
For example, if you can make a product cheaper, you certainly can do so, and make it so cheap that nobody buys your competitors’ products, and you win the marketplace. But you could not go to your competitors, all agree to sell the same product at a certain price, and then split all of your profits, just to get rid of smaller, less powerful competitors. That is collusion, an illegal practice, and an antitrust violation.
Likewise, you could not agree with your competition to limit how much of a product you make, simply in an effort to manipulate supply and demand, thus driving the price of your goods or services higher.
Another example of antitrust violations would be Apple’s app store restricting other developers from being a part of that marketplace. We all know that Apple has a huge share of the cell phone market, and that its app store is tightly controlled by Apple. If Apple were to say, for example, that its competitors’ apps—say, Google’s mail app—were banned from their app store, that would be using Apple’s huge market share to squeeze out or stifle competition.
Being successful means doing it yourself, by offering a better product, service, or price point. Not by artificially manipulating the free market, or by using your leverage, as a large company, to eliminate your competition by using coercion or pressure tactics.
Mergers and Monopolies
Antitrust law violations also happen when big companies try to merge, thus threatening a monopoly. It happens when companies get so big, they dominate the marketplace, and perhaps even buy up competition. This kind of antitrust may not affect your business, unless you are a multinational business.
Want to make sure your next venture is handled legally, and without getting into trouble? Call the West Palm Beach business litigation attorneys at Pike & Lustig today to help your business succeed, but legally, and while avoiding legal problems down the road.