When a person in Tennessee owns a business, it is inevitable that they will have interactions with competing business owners. While sometimes these interactions can be positive, there are laws that prohibit businesses from colluding to suppress free trade or impede competition when it comes to pricing. These are antitrust violations, and they are unlawful.
There are a number of antitrust laws. Under the Sherman Act, if businesses act in a manner in which they impede or monopolize free trade, they could face criminal penalties. Then there is the Clayton Act. This is a civil law that states that a company harmed by an antitrust violation can seek injunctive relief and pursue damages. It specifically lays out different types of antitrust violations. Included in it is the Robinson-Patman Act, which addresses price discrimination.
To avoid committing antitrust violations, businesses should refrain from committing certain acts. They should not have talks with their competitors about pricing. They also should not have talks with competitors about making territories or in some other way dividing consumers. Business should not try to restrict or control consumer resales.
Businesses that sell a product should not have discussions with stores regarding the price for which the store sells the product. Also, businesses should not discuss with retailers their sales to other retailers. In addition, businesses should not mandate that customers only purchase items from them or to purchase specific products instead of other products.
Sales should not be reciprocal. Also, businesses should not state that a customer should purchase items from them because they purchase items from the purchaser’s business. Businesses should not charge different prices for their products for different competing customers. Finally, unless it can be buttressed with proof, businesses should not make negative comments, either verbal or written, about products produced by a competing business.
This is only a brief overview of antitrust violations, and should not be relied on as legal advice. Business owners in Tennessee who want more information on antitrust laws and what constitutes a violation of these laws may want to discuss the matter with an attorney.
Source: Edward Lowe Foundation, “How to Avoid Antitrust Violations,” accessed Nov. 13, 2017