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Monopolies and Antitrust Law

Historical Background, Federal Law, Antitrust Enforcements, Monopoly Cases, Further Readings

In the free market, competition is often ruthless. Antitrust law regulates this competition in order to prevent unfairness in the conduct of business. The term antitrust refers to the industrial giants of the nineteenth century, corporations which organized themselves into jointly managed units known as trusts. Through size and strength, the trusts single-handedly controlled the nation's most important markets, crushing all competitors, dictating prices, and erratically supplying goods and services to consumers. This led to the condition of overall dominance known as monopoly. Derived from the Greek for "right of exclusive sale," monopoly control over a market is illegal under antitrust law. The law also forbids several forms of anticompetitive behavior. Steep criminal and civil penalties, backed by federal and state enforcement, help to promote its underlying premise of fair competition. Open markets, it is believed, provide fertile ground for a healthy economy by encouraging new investment, job creation, stable prices, and a reliable marketplace.

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