There are three main statutory schemes that constitute U.S. antitrust law. Either the Antitrust Division of the Justice Department or the Federal Trade Commission primarily enforces all three federal statutes.
Federal Trade Commission Act: Administered solely by the Federal Trade Commission. This act is a catch-all enactment which has been construed to include all the prohibitions of the other antitrust laws. In addition, it may be utilized to fill what may appear to be loopholes in the more explicit regulatory statutes.
Clayton Act of 1914: Deals with specific types of illegal restraints including exclusive dealing arrangements, tie-in sales, price discrimination, mergers and acquisitions, and interlocking directorates. The Clayton Act carries only civil penalties and is enforced jointly by both the Antitrust Division and the Federal Trade Commission. The Act also provides for a private lawsuit in Federal Court for damages and to restrain future violations.
Sherman Act of 1890: Prohibits contracts or conspiracies that restrain trade and create monopolization. A violation can result in criminal penalties, substantial fines, and for individual transgressors, prison terms. In addition, court orders restraining future violations are also available. Primarily, the Antitrust Division of the Justice Department enforces the provisions of the Sherman Act.
Antitrust law or competition law affects the strategic decisions and daily activities of most businesses worldwide and an antitrust lawyer plays a key role in ensuring that businesses operate within their markets according to the principles of free and open competition.