While many businesses will do almost anything to gain an edge on the competition, it is important to understand antitrust laws so that you do not risk your business's integrity while gaining customers. Antitrust laws make it illegal to conspire to restrain trade or commerce in any marketplace, regardless of size. While small businesses often fall victim to the unfair business practices of larger companies, they can be prosecuted for unfairly dominating markets localized in cities, towns, neighborhoods or niche industries.
Antitrust laws address the following:
Conspiring to Fix Market Prices:
Discussing prices with competitors, even if it affects a small marketplace, may be construed as a violation of antitrust laws.
Using dominant industry power to secure favorable product prices from buyers, even though such prices are unavailable to weaker companies in the same industry, is generally a violation of antitrust laws.
Conspiring to Boycott:
Conversations with other businesses regarding the potential boycott of another competitor or supplier may violate antitrust laws.
Conspiring to Allocate Markets or Customers:
Agreements between competitors to divide up customers, territories, or markets are illegal. This provision applies even when the competitors do not dominate the particular market or industry.
Preserving a monopoly position through the acquisition of competitors, the exclusion of competitors to the given market, or the control of market prices are all in violation of antitrust laws.
The following resources can also be helpful: