Antitrust deals with the area of law concerned with maintaining competition in private markets. The American antitrust and fair trade laws protect and promote competition in the free enterprise system. These laws provide remedies for businesses and consumers from the effects of monopolization and conspiracy, fixed prices, boycotts, refusals to deal, divided markets, etc.
The historic goal of the antitrust laws is to protect economic freedom and opportunity by promoting competition in the marketplace. Free competition benefits 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.
The major federal antitrust law, the Sherman Act, was passed in 1890 and makes illegal every contract, combination, or conspiracy, in the restraint of trade. Basically, the Sherman act prohibits monopolies.
The Clayton Act, which supplements the Sherman Act, prohibits mergers and acquisitions where the effect is to substantially lessen competition or create a monopoly.
Each state has its own antitrust laws, but most are similar to federal versions. Antitrust lawyers represent companies on matters concerning government regulation of business including price fixing and restraint of free trade.