What sort of Conduct Violates Antitrust Laws?
The most common antitrust violations fall into two categories: (i) Agreements to restrain competition, and (ii) efforts to acquire a monopoly. In the case of a merger, a combination that would likely substantially reduce competition in a market would also violate antitrust laws.
Common examples of these violations include:
"Price fixing" includes any agreement by competing vendors that establishes an agreed price or otherwise determines how the price will be set among those vendors. The agreement to fix the price may occur at the wholesale or the retail level. Agreements between competitors that establish boundaries for pricing, such as setting a minimum or maximum price, are also prohibited.
"Bid rigging" includes any agreement by independent competitors to not fully compete against each other in responding to a request for bid, including:
- Bid Suppression, such as an agreement to not bid
- Complementary Bidding, such as an agreement to bid “under” a certain amount
- Bid Rotation, such as an agreement to take turns bidding for certain jobs
Bid rigging is viewed as a form of price fixing. It may occur in any situation where a purchaser solicits bids for products or services. Many public entities are required to solicit bids, making them possible targets for bid rigging schemes.
“Market Division or Allocation” includes any agreement between competitors that they will not compete with respect to certain products, certain customers or in certain geographical areas. These types of agreements can constitute bid rigging.
“Boycotts” are agreements among competitors to not make sales to a particular customer or a market so as to prevent that customer or people in that market from being able to purchase the products or services.
“Tying” can occur when a seller who has market power over one product (the “tying product”) will only sell that product to buyers who agree to also buy a different product from the seller (the “tied product”) so that the buyers are effectively coerced to purchase that tied product from the seller rather than from any competitor.
“Monopolization” or attempted monopolization can occur when a dominant seller seeks to maintain or increase its market power through anticompetitive tactics that tend to foreclose the market to competitors and are not justified by pro-competitive benefits for consumers.