In the absence of competition, businesses have little incentive to win customers over. Therefore, the federal government and states use antitrust laws to discourage certain mergers and acquisitions that may give them a grossly unfair advantage. This is a way of keeping large business entities (monopolies or trusts) from dominating market share and thus stifling competition. Typically, antitrust laws are invoked when a company announces a merger or acquisition of another large company, creating a virtual monopoly.
Where Did Antitrust Laws Originate?
The first antitrust law enacted in the U.S. was the Sherman Antitrust Act in 1890. Considered the most significant of the federal antitrust laws, the Sherman Act was intended to combat the "business trusts" of the American economy during the late nineteenth century, and to this day it remains the bedrock of antitrust enforcement in the U.S.
Vermont Antitrust Laws
State laws also prohibit monopolies. Modeled on federal statutory provisions, Vermont antitrust laws prohibit:
The Vermont Attorney General's Office is responsible for civil and criminal enforcement of Vermont’s antitrust laws, and has authority to file civil actions under federal antitrust statutes and to review mergers and other anticompetitve conduct.
Individuals or businesses that violate Vermont's antitrust laws are subject to civil and criminal penalties including fines and possible incarceration. Violators may also have to pay restitution to any victims harmed as a result of violations of either the federal or state antitrust laws.
If you would like to know more about anti-trust law, and how it applies to you, there are many attorneys throughout Vermont with antitrust experience who may be able to help. Although private citizens and small corporations generally do not enforce anti-trust laws, Vermont does allow them to bring their own lawsuits if they are harmed, as long as they inform the attorney general before bringing the lawsuit.
The basic provisions of Vermont's antitrust laws are detailed in the following table. See FindLaw's Consumer Protection section to learn more.
|Antitrust Code Section||Tit. 9 §2465|
|Is a Private Lawsuit Possible?||Yes|
|Can a Successful Plaintiff Recover Attorneys' Fees?||Yes|
Note: State antitrust laws are constantly changing -- contact a Vermont antitrust attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
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