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Wisconsin Antitrust Laws

Most of us are used to the idea that while we consumers are trying to pay as little as possible for goods and services, businesses are attempting to charge as much as they can. And we would expect that competition for our dollars will generally result in lower prices. However, we also expect that competition to be open and honest.

So what happens when different companies collude to falsely set prices or supply? Thankfully for Badger State consumers, there are regulations in place to protect open markets. This is a brief introduction to antitrust laws in Wisconsin.

Antitrust Laws

States use antitrust laws to discourage collusion as well as certain mergers and acquisitions that may give companies an unfair advantage in the consumer market. Antitrust laws in Wisconsin allow citizens to bring private lawsuits against companies via the Department of Justice or local district attorney. If the claims are successful, plaintiff’s may recover attorneys' fees as well as damages.

Antitrust Law in Wisconsin

The main provisions of Wisconsin antitrust laws are highlighted in the table below. Visit FindLaw's Business Regulations section to learn more.

Antitrust Code Section

133.01, et seq.

Is a Private Lawsuit Possible?

Yes; dept. of justice or district attorney power to enforce

Time Limit to Bring Claim

6 yrs. Statute begins running upon discovery of a cause of action by an aggrieved party. Other actions have suspended statute of limitations during pendency of any civil or criminal action and for one year afterward.

Can a Successful Plaintiff Recover Attorneys' Fees?

Yes; and cost of suit

Antitrust Enforcement

State antitrust laws are designed to protect free trade and commerce from unfair restraints, like price fixing and monopolies. Along with state laws, two federal antitrust laws -- the Sherman Act and the Clayton Act -- assist states in prosecuting antitrust cases in two ways:

  • A state attorney general may sue on behalf of the state: if the lawsuit is successful, a court can order an injunction prohibiting the practice or ordering fines paid to the consumers to punish the unfair practice; or
  • Competing businesses or consumers themselves may file a private right of action: if the lawsuit is successful, the plaintiff can recover damages for injuries suffered as a result of the unfair practice.

Related Resources for Antitrust Laws

State antitrust laws are subject to change. You can also visit FindLaw’s Consumer Protection and Small Business Law sections for additional articles and resources. You can also contact a Wisconsin antitrust attorney if you would like to understand the rules and regulations regarding your business, or if you would like legal assistance with an antitrust matter.

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