Virginia Antitrust Attorneys
The business environment in the United States can be a ruthless place, so those impacted by unfair competition can turn to a Virginia Antitrust Attorneys at MartinWren, P.C. Fair and unfettered competition is the cornerstone of a free market economy. In no place is this truer than in the United States. Antitrust law governs the law of competition. It seeks to promote fair competition on the merits and to protect consumers and business competitors from anti-competitive business practices.
Tactics that undermine competitive commercial behavior in a given market or line of commerce are harshly scrutinized. The underlying purpose of antitrust law is to promote robust competition in the markets by prohibiting anti-competitive monopolies, cartels, and conspiracies.
Companies that sell similar goods and services to a particular market often spend millions of dollars competing with one another over customers and may even go as far as to engage in conduct that many people would find morally reprehensible if it occurred between individuals.
Deceptive Business Competition
Competition in business often benefits consumers by improving products and lowering prices, so, to some extent, it is encouraged. On the other hand, there are some types of business competition that are blatantly deceptive or amount to theft and, as such, are prohibited by state and federal law.
When a business is the victim of unfair competition, it can often recover for the losses it has sustained through a lawsuit. At MartinWren, P.C. our Antitrust Attorneys in VA have been protecting businesses, fighting for them against other companies who engage in unfair competition and obtaining the legal remedies allowed by the courts for damages. Some of the more common forms of competition are discussed below:
- Trademark Infringement: Trademark infringement is one of the most common types of unfair competition that often occurs in today’s business environment. A trademark is a symbol, phrase, word, or design that identifies that the source of goods or services, and infringement occurs when another party uses that trademark or one that is virtually indistinguishable from it in order to sell products or services of the same type as the rightful trademark owner sells.
When this occurs, the trademark owner may file an action in order to recover for its losses. In some cases, trademark infringement may actually result in criminal liability, as well.
- Trade Libel: Trade libel occurs when a party publishes false statements regarding the quality of the goods or services that company provides, which results in financial loss to that company.
Importantly, in this context, “published” means any communication made to the general public, meaning that it could include an Internet advertisement, as well as a radio spot.
These are just two examples of the kinds of conduct that could potentially result in a cause of action based on unfair trade practices. If successful, business harmed by these kinds of practices can pursue both injunctive and pecuniary remedies. An injunctive remedy involves a court order directing a party to refrain from engaging in certain conduct – for example, to stop using a particular trademark or to pull a libelous advertisement from publication. The pecuniary remedy would operate to compensate the injured party for any losses that it sustained as a result of the defendant’s actions.
Safeguarding Entire Market
As our team of VA Antitrust Attorneys understands, antitrust law also exists to resist harm done to an entire market, not merely to a particular business or customer. For example, an antitrust claim cannot merely allege that the plaintiff was harmed by an unscrupulous defendant. Rather, the defendant must have undermined competition in a distinct market resulting in general injury to competition and specific injury to plaintiff. In other words, a plaintiff must make a showing of “antitrust harm” resulting in “antitrust injury” to the plaintiff itself.
An antitrust offense is actually a tort committed against a market, rather than against a specific person or business in the market. That so, the law prohibiting antitrust violations seeks to prohibit activities that undermine free competition in the marketplace. Because such violations can be widespread and impact an entire market, antitrust litigation often occurs as class action litigation.
Predatory Practices to Monopolize
A monopoly is not automatically evil and improper under the law. In fact, monopolies may be considered necessary and useful in some markets. Despite that, it is always a violation of antitrust law to use anti-competitive or predatory practices to acquire a monopoly, preserve or enlarge a monopoly, or abuse monopoly power in one market to obtain a monopoly in another market.
Common antitrust offenses involving monopolies are: (1) procurement of monopoly power by improper means, (2) preservation or enlargement of monopoly power by improper means, and (3) abuse of monopoly power in one market to obtain monopoly power in another market.
Some antitrust schemes are complex and involve large-scale operations and conspiracies, which is why seeking help from Antitrust Attorneys from Virginia is highly encouraged. There are other questionable activities which may violate antitrust laws against certain competition. Here are a few common examples.
- Market Allocation: Suppose one company operates in Virginia and another does business in New York. The two owners agree to stay out of each other’s territory. Because the costs of doing business are so high that startups have no chance of competing, the two companies may have a de facto
- Bid Rigging: Suppose there are three companies in a certain industry. The companies agree to secretly operate as a cartel where one company will win the first auction, the second company will win the next auction, and so on. Each company cooperates with this scheme so that all retain current market share and price, thereby preventing competition.
- Price Fixing: There are only two companies in a specific industry, and the products are so similar that the consumer is indifferent between the two except for price. In order to avoid a price war, the companies sell the products at the same price to maintain margin, which results in a higher cost than the consumer would otherwise have to pay.
Antitrust law is violated as these companies act together in order to sabotage competition on the merits by engaging in activities that are exclusionary or predatory restraints on trade. These types of violations come in a variety of other forms, such as market division by competitors, tying arrangements, and predatory pricing. Illegal agreements can exist between direct competitors (known as horizontal agreements), but can also exist between parties in supply chain of a product (known as vertical agreements, such as between a supplier and a vendor).
Antitrust law is complicated and intricate, and the Antitrust Attorneys from VA at MartinWren, P.C. welcome the opportunity to represent you or your business in an antitrust situation. Our business savvy and solid grasp on the law is crucial to properly advising clients and pursuing all proper remedies no matter the type of antitrust situation you face.
Each year, thousands of businesses are victimized by unfair competition and trade practices by competitors. Fortunately, legal redress is often available. For more information, please contact Virginia Antitrust Attorneys (either Robert E. Byrne, Jr. or John B. Simpson at 434-817-3100) to discuss how best to address an antitrust legal situation facing your business.