Methods of Enforcement
Antitrust laws are enforced by the Federal Trade Commission and the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice. The FTC has the power to stop companies temporarily from employing suspected anti-competitive practices, while the Justice Department probes and prosecutes businesses.
America's robust economy and the policies of the Clinton Administration is causing the number of antitrust investigations to increase. In 1997, the two agencies received 3,702 notifications of mergers -- twice that of 1991. As of May 1998, the Justice Department was is in the midst of 415 antitrust investigations and 93 court cases.
When the U.S. government establishes in court that a company has been involved in antitrust activities, it can do the following:
Break up the monopoly into well-defined components
Force businesses to tell customers about competitors Force monopoly to distribute competing products*
*This last possibility is new and reflects the government's demands in its antitrust suit against Microsoft Corp. It insists that Microsoft either not distribute its own Web browser with Windows 98, or that it distribute it alongside the browser of its main competitor, Netscape Communications. The U.S. government has never before required a company to distribute a competing product.
© Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company
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