Law Dictionary

Sherman Antitrust Act

Law 15 U.S.C. § 1 et seq. (1890)
  1. curbed concentrations of power that interfere with trade and reduce competition. One of its main provisions outlawed all combinations that restrained trade between states or with foreign nations. This prohibition applied not only to formal cartels but also to any agreement to fix prices, limit industrial output, share markets, or exclude competition. A second key provision made illegal all attempts to monopolize any part of trade or commerce in the United States. These two provisions, which comprise the heart of the Sherman Act, are enforceable by the Department of Justice through litigation in the federal courts. Firms found in violation of the Act can be ordered dissolved by the courts, and injunctions to prohibit illegal practices can be issued. Violations are punishable by fines and imprisonment. Moreover, private parties injured by violations are permitted to sue for triple the amount of damages done to them. In 1914 Congress passed two legislative measures that provided support for the Sherman Act. One of these was the Clayton Antitrust Act, which elaborated on the general provisions of the Sherman Act and specified many illegal practices that either contributed to or resulted from monopolization. The other measure created the Federal Trade Commission, providing the government with an agency that had the power to investigate possible violations of antitrust legislation and issue orders forbidding unfair competition practices.


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