Key Harrington Barnes, PC

Antitrust laws in Texas

A capitalist market must be competitive and free if it is to thrive and grow, and consumers in Texas are protected from the unfair practices of monopolies and cartels by both federal and state laws. These laws are usually referred to as antitrust laws as they were passed to curb the anti-competitive business practices of large corporations called trusts. Trusts usually lack serious competition, and this is rarely good for consumers or the economy.

The most important federal antitrust laws are the Sherman Act, the Clayton Act and the Federal Trade Commission Act. The Sherman Act was passed in 1880, and it laid the foundation for all subsequent antitrust legislation. The Clayton Act and the Federal Trade Commission Act were passed in 1914. While the Sherman Act painted broad strokes, the Clayton Act focused on specific types of unfair business activity. The Federal Trade Commission Act was passed to establish the agency tasked with enforcing these laws.

Legislators in Texas adopted the Texas Free Enterprise and Antitrust Act in 1983. This law tackles anti-competitive practices such as fixing prices and rigging bids. The law can also be used to prevent group boycotts and put a stop to mergers and acquisitions that are not considered to be in the public interest. Violators of the law are usually prosecuted by the state's attorney general, but private parties can also file lawsuits within four years of a violation.

Attorneys with business law experience could inform the authorities or file a lawsuit when one of their clients is suffering injury, loss or damage due to the kind of unfair business practices prohibited by federal and state law. They may also urge the parties involved in a business dispute to seek an amicable compromise when possible to avoid the cost and uncertain outcome of a civil trial.

Source: The Federal Trade Commission, "Antitrust Laws", accessed on Dec. 10, 2015

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