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Common Misunderstandings About Antitrust Laws


You may have first heard about antitrust law in your high school history class when you studied the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890. Many people believe that this act criminalizes all monopolies, but this is not actually true. A monopoly or antitrust matter could have serious legal implications at the federal level. If you are convicted of an antitrust violation as an individual, you could face up to a year in prison and fine of up to $1 million. Corporations found guilty of similar violations could be fined up to $100 million. If you are facing antitrust charges, you need to understand what some of the more common misconceptions about monopolies are.

Antitrust Laws Protect Small Businesses

The premise behind the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890 is to protect the rights of businesses to compete in the marketplace fairly. Many people assume that this means that the unfair advantage of large businesses or conglomerates would fall under this. While it can be difficult for small businesses to compete against larger companies that have more substantial resources, the reality is that this law is designed to protect the consumer. Monopolies can restrict the rights of consumers to benefit from a free marketplace, so consumers' rights are taken into consideration in a legal case rather than the rights of competing businesses.

All Monopolies Are Illegal

A monopoly forms over time as a successful company consistently grows and thrives, and weaker companies inevitably fall to the wayside. Criminalizing all monopolies essentially would discourage companies from being as successful as they can. This could impact the consumer negatively. The Supreme Court clarified the antitrust law by stating that criminal monopolies are those that willfully acquire assets with the intention of creating a monopoly. If the monopoly develops out of superior products, business strategy or other efforts, it is not illegal.

Antitrust Laws Are Irrelevant

The antitrust law was originally passed to ensure a fair marketplace at a time when railroads were corporate giants. While the original purpose for creating the law has long been addressed fully under the Sherman Act, the matter continues to be relevant in business today. From retail to technology and other industries, some corporations may attempt to squash competition through unfair practices. Others may dominate their industry because of their superior products or business practices. This is where you will find the relevance of antitrust laws. However, the interpretation of the law in the modern day continues to evolve as technologies and other factors change as well. This is why those who are charged with an antitrust crime today should seek the professional legal guidance of a skilled criminal defense lawyer in Atlanta who has experience with this area of the law.

Antitrust Enforcement Is Lax

There is a misconception that the Federal Trade Commission does not actively enforce antitrust laws. While this misconception is rooted in government history dating back for decades, it may be perpetuated by the fact that there are so many large conglomerates that dominate various industries. In reality, the FTC actively monitors mergers, acquisitions, reports of price-fixing and other related aspects of antitrust laws. If you are dealing with an antitrust charge today, that charge may have been directly related to the FTC’s monitoring practices or to a complaint from another party.

Atlanta Criminal Defense Attorneys

From antitrust issues to fraud, domestic violence and many other criminal charges, our Atlanta criminal defense attorneys are available to help. With more than three decades of experience, we have successfully achieved many acquittals and dismissals for our clients over the years, and we are available to speak with you about the charges that you are facing. Whether you are dealing with state or federal charges, we can help you to explore your legal options through a free consultation. Our vast experience with criminal charges related to fraud, domestic violence, DUI, tax evasion and more enable us to provide comprehensive representation to our clients. Contact us by phone at (404) 471-3177, or fill out our online form today for additional assistance.

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