Antitrust laws are intended to prevent corporations from acquiring competitors to the point where consumers are left without real choices, often resulting in higher prices as well. Typically, antitrust laws are invoked when a company announces a merger or acquisition of another large company, creating a virtual monopoly.
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.
Example Of An Antitrust Violation
For example, let's my widgets company operates in the California and your company does business in the Washington. If you agree to stay out of my territory, I won't enter yours, and because the costs of doing business are so high that startups have no chance of competing, we both basically created a monopoly---and that's illegal. You won't pass "Go" and you certainly won't be collecting $200.
Washington Antitrust Laws
State laws also prohibit monopolies. The Attorney General of Washington, through its Antitrust Division, is the primary enforcer of the state antitrust laws. Washington antitrust laws impose a four-year limit to file claims and allow successful plaintiffs to recover lawyer fees.
Individuals or businesses that violate Washington's antitrust laws are subject to civil penalties of up to $100,000 per violation for individuals, and up to $500,000 per violation for corporations. Violators may also have to pay restitution to any victims harmed as a result of violations of either the federal or state antitrust laws.
The basic provisions of Washington's antitrust laws are detailed in the following table. See FindLaw's Consumer Protection section to learn more.
|Antitrust Code Section||19.86.010, et seq.|
|Is a Private Lawsuit Possible?||Yes; attorney general power to enforce|
|Time Limit to Bring Claim||4 yrs., except when attorney general brings action in whole or in part; in matter of private action, the private action's statute of limitations is suspended|
|Can a Successful Plaintiff Recover Attorneys' Fees?||Yes|
Note: State laws are constantly changing -- contact a Washington antitrust attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
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Washington Antitrust Laws: Related Resources
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