The mission of the Antitrust Division is to promote economic competition through enforcing and providing guidance on antitrust laws and principles.

Antitrust Laws

The goal of the antitrust laws is to protect economic freedom and opportunity by promoting free and fair competition in the marketplace.

Competition in a free market benefits American consumers through lower prices, better quality and greater choice. Competition provides businesses the opportunity to compete on price and quality, in an open market and on a level playing field, unhampered by anticompetitive restraints. Competition also tests and hardens American companies at home, the better to succeed abroad.

Federal antitrust laws apply to virtually all industries and to every level of business, including manufacturing, transportation, distribution, and marketing. They prohibit a variety of practices that restrain trade, such as price-fixing conspiracies, corporate mergers likely to reduce the competitive vigor of particular markets, and predatory acts designed to achieve or maintain monopoly power.

Related pages:

Antitrust Laws and You

Antitrust Division Manual: Chapter II, Statutory Provisions and Guidelines of the Antitrust Division

Enforcing Antitrust Laws

The Division prosecutes certain violations of the antitrust laws by filing criminal suits that can lead to large fines and jail sentences. In other cases, the Division institutes a civil action seeking a court order forbidding future violations of the law and requiring steps to remedy the anticompetitive effects of past violations.

Many of the Division's accomplishments on these fronts are made possible by an unprecedented level of cooperation and coordination with foreign antitrust enforcement agencies and with state attorneys general.

Related pages:

Criminal Enforcement

Merger Enforcement

Other Antitrust Sites Worldwide

Providing Guidance on Antitrust Laws

The Division provides guidance to the business community on antitrust laws, much of it jointly with the Federal Trade Commission. This guidance explains the boundaries of permissible conduct and may reduce uncertainty about the parameters of legal behavior. This saves money for both business and the government by helping companies to structure and organize their operations in accordance with the law. In order to receive guidance from the Division, a business must request a formal business review.

Related pages:

Guidelines and Policy Statements

Business Reviews

Serving as an Advocate for Competition

In addition to enforcing the antitrust laws, the Antitrust Division also acts as an advocate for competition, seeking to promote competition in sectors of the economy that are or may be subject to government regulation. These sectors include:

  • Federally regulated industries, such as communications, banking, agriculture, securities, transportation, energy, and international trade.
  • State or locally regulated industries, such as insurance, housing, health care, public utilities, professional and occupational licensing, certain aspects of banking, and real estate.

The Division's advocacy efforts include participation on Executive Branch policy-making task forces, preparation of testimony on legislative initiatives, publication of reports on regulated industry performance, and intervention in regulatory agency proceedings.

Related pages:

EAG Competition Advocacy Papers

Antitrust Division Manual: Chapter V, Competition Advocacy

Updated February 21, 2023

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