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Title 7: Antitrust

7-2.000 - Antitrust Statutes

7-2.100 Antitrust Statutes
7-2.200 The Sherman Act
7-2.300 The Clayton Act
7-2.400 Other Competition Laws

7-2.100 - Antitrust Statutes

General enforcement, by criminal and civil proceedings, of the federal antitrust laws and other laws relating to the protection of competition and the prohibition of restraints of trade and monopolization are assigned to the Antitrust Division.  28 C.F.R. § 0.40. 

This includes violations of the Sherman Act, which prohibits conspiracies in restraint of trade and monopolization, attempted monopolization, and conspiracies to monopolize; and the Clayton Act, which prohibits anticompetitive mergers, among other things.

The Antitrust Division also investigates and prosecutes criminal violations under Title 18 affecting the competitive process, or affecting investigations into anticompetitive conduct.  JM 7-1.200.  This includes criminal actions for conspiring to defraud the federal government by violation of the antitrust laws.  28 C.F.R. § 0.40. 

[updated April 2022]

7-2.200 - The Sherman Act

The Sherman Act prohibits (a) contracts, combinations, or conspiracies in restraint of interstate commerce or foreign trade (15 U.S.C. § 1), and (b) monopolization, attempts to monopolize, or combinations or conspiracies to monopolize interstate commerce or foreign trade (15 U.S.C. § 2), among other things.

While a violation of this Act may be prosecuted as a felony, in general, the Department reserves criminal prosecution under Section 1 for “per se” unlawful restraints of trade among competitors, e.g., price fixing, bid rigging, and market allocation agreements.  It may also bring, and has brought, criminal charges under Section 2.

Criminal violations of this Act carry a maximum prison sentence of 10 years. Criminal violations of this Act carry a maximum fine of the greatest of (a) twice the gross pecuniary gain derived from the crime, (b) twice the gross pecuniary loss caused to the victims by the crime, or (c) for defendant corporations: $100 million, and for individuals: $1,000,000.

[updated April 2022]

7-2.300 - The Clayton Act

The Clayton Act prohibits corporate and other mergers—and the acquisition of stock or assets—of competing companies, where the effect of such action may be substantially to lessen competition or tend to create a monopoly. Anticompetitive tying and exclusive dealing contracts are also prohibited, as are certain interlocking directorates. Violations of this Act are prosecuted civilly.

[updated February 2020]

7-2.400 - Other Competition Laws

In addition to representing the United States in enforcing federal antitrust laws and other laws relating to the protection of competition, the Antitrust Division supports other federal agencies with enforcement of statutes aimed at promoting competition.

[updated April 2022]