Antitrust laws are meant to foster competition and job growth by limiting any one company's control of a given market and artificially inflating prices. Most antitrust laws were passed after a handful of powerful monopolies squashed competition and stifled economic growth in the last half of the nineteenth century.
Antitrust cases usually are handled by the federal government, particularly since they typically involve interstate commerce, but states also play a role. New York antitrust laws allow private lawsuits against defendant businesses, as long as claims are brought within four years.
The basics of New York antitrust laws are summarized in the table and article below. Check out FindLaw's Small Business Law center to learn more about business regulations.
|Antitrust Code Section||Gen. Bus. §340 ¶5., et seq.|
|Is a Private Lawsuit Possible?||Yes; no prerequisite for administrative action but private party plaintiff must notify the attorney general|
|Time Limit to Bring Claim||4 yrs. (suspended during pendency of federal action based in whole or in part on same matter)|
|Can a Successful Plaintiff Recover Attorneys' Fees?||Yes|
Purposes of Antitrust Laws
At a very basic level, the purpose of anti-trust laws is to promote a diverse economy. In other words, anti-trust laws prevent companies from forming monopolies and controlling different sectors of the economy. Imagine if there was only one company that sold gasoline in the entire country. That company would be able to charge whatever it wanted for gasoline because they are the only source. Anti-trust laws try to prevent this.
Similarly, anti-trust laws prevent companies from entering into certain non-competition agreements. Even if there were two companies that sold gasoline, but they agreed to only operate in different parts of the country, they could still charge whatever they wanted for a gallon of gas. Anti-trust laws also prevent companies from agreeing to charge the same price, because this prevents the competition that may lower prices for consumers. As well, anti-trust laws prevent companies from blocking out new companies from entering the market.
Basics of Antitrust Law
Generally speaking, violations of antitrust laws are crimes committed by corporations or other business entities. Antitrust laws aim to prevent two forms of monopolies, horizontal monopolies and vertical monopolies. Horizontal monopolies exist when one or a select few companies own all of the companies participating in an area of the economy, like one or two gasoline suppliers. A vertical monopoly exists when one company owns all of the different forms of one industry, like oil developers, oil refineries, and gasoline suppliers. The end result of monopolies is that they inhibit competition and unreasonably raise prices for consumers.
If you would like to know more about anti-trust law, and how it applies to you, there are many attorneys throughout New York with antitrust experience who may be able to help. Although private citizens and small corporations generally do not enforce anti-trust laws, New York does allow them to bring their own lawsuits if they are harmed, as long as they inform the attorney general before bringing the lawsuit.
Contact a qualified attorney.