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Tennessee Antitrust Laws

The word "trust" can mean a lot of things, but in the context of commerce it refers to an organization (typically a very large corporation) that uses certain tactics to eliminate competition and consumer choice. These tactics may include hostile takeovers, unchecked mergers, or price fixing schemes, for example. Most antitrust regulation is done at the federal level, since trusts almost always involve interstate commerce, but state antitrust laws also play a role.

Tennessee code declares that "Trusts, etc., lessening competition or controlling prices unlawful and void." The following offenses are prohibited under Tennessee antitrust law:

  • Price fixing agreements (for example, two or more competitors agree to charge the same price for a certain item, thus keeping prices artificially high)
  • All "arrangements, contracts, agreements, trusts, or combinations" of business entities aimed at restricting competition at a cost to consumers.
  • Underpricing goods or giving them away with the intent of "destroying honest competition."
  • Discrimination by news venders and distributors in pricing, access, etc.

Consumers and other businesses may file civil claims for acts that violate Tennessee's antitrust law, as the following chart explains.

Antitrust Code Section 47-25-101, et seq.
Is a Private Lawsuit Possible? Yes; attorney general and reporter power to institute criminal proceedings
Time Limit to Bring Claim Not specified
Can a Successful Plaintiff Recover Attorneys' Fees? No

Note: State laws are constantly changing -- contact a Tennessee antitrust attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Overview of Federal Antitrust Regulations

There are three main federal antitrust laws that pertain to every business entity that crosses state lines:

  • Sherman Act - Passed in 1890, defines and prohibits monopolies while establishing a legal framework for partnerships among competitors.
  • Federal Trade Commission Act - This act, passed in 1914, prohibits additional "unfair methods of competition" and incorporates the Sherman Act; establishes the Federal Trade Commission.
  • Clayton Act - Passed along with the FTC Act, this addresses specifics not explicitly stated in the Sherman Act.

Generally, these laws are flexible enough to allow courts to rely heavily on the facts of each case. If a business practice unfairly restricts competition, artificially inflates prices, reduces overall quality as a result, or otherwise hurts the consumer, then it may be in violation of federal law.

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Tennessee Antitrust Laws: Related Resources

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