Tampa Antitrust Lawyer
Antitrust law promotes the functioning of a free market economy in the U.S. Before the passage of major antitrust legislation, many corporations engaged in anticompetitive practices which inflated prices and reduced consumer choice. Today, however, government regulators turn their attention to much smaller companies and frequently bring charges where evidence of anticompetitive behavior is weak. Please contact a Tampa antitrust lawyer at Trombley & Hanes to speak with a member of our legal team.
Why You Should Contact an Attorney Immediately
Federal antitrust law provides for both criminal and civil enforcement. Although some defendants will only face financial penalties, it is possible to be charged as a felon and face time in prison.
The law surrounding antitrust is often in flux. The Supreme Court regularly hears cases that clarify certain provisions of either the Sherman Antitrust Act or the Clayton Antitrust Act. In this economic climate, many prosecutors are hoping to project a “tough on corporate crime” attitude, and the pressure to bring charges on shaky evidence is immense. The best way to protect yourself and your company is to contact an attorney as soon as possible to begin building a defense.
Sherman Antitrust Act
Passed in 1890, this law criminalized monopolies created by cartels. The law prohibits any contract, combination, or conspiracy that operates to unreasonably restrict trade in interstate commerce. The law does not apply to only intrastate activity. But most economic activity today crosses state borders, so prosecutors have a free hand to bring charges against most Florida businesses.
A conviction under this Act carries steep penalties. A corporation can be fined up to $100 million, and any individual convicted can face a $1 million fine and up to 10 years in federal prison.
Clayton Antitrust Act
Passed in 1914, the Clayton Antitrust Act clarifies and amends certain provisions of the Sherman Act. It prohibits price fixing, price tying, and the acquisition of stock in a competing business, along with other unfair business practices.
Many disputes break out over whether certain conduct is illegal. Price tying, for example, consists of bundling goods and forcing (usually by contract) a consumer to buy an unnecessary item to get the item they want. This type of arrangement is not always illegal under federal law. Instead, courts analyze the effect of the tying arrangement on the market.
The Clayton Act results in only civil enforcement. If found liable, a defendant will be forced to pay penalties and money damages to plaintiffs. A judge can also order that a company divest of certain assets to restore competitiveness to the market.
Contact our Tampa Antitrust Lawyer Today
Any antitrust action could have disastrous effects for you personally or for your business. Civil penalties are so steep that some companies could be forced into liquidation. Even worse, the line between illegal and legal business activities is blurry, and prosecutions might be unfair.