Injunctive Relief Under Federal Antitrust Laws

Injunctions may be sought to prevent a violation of federal antitrust laws from occurring or to halt an ongoing violation of the federal antitrust laws. Section 15 of the Clayton Act, 15 U.S.C.S. § 25, provides for injunctions sought by the government. The section gives U.S. District Courts jurisdiction to prevent and restrain violations of the Clayton Act and directs U.S. Attorneys, under the supervision of the Attorney General, to file actions seeking to prevent and restrain the violations. Section 16 of the Clayton Act, 15 U.S.C.S. § 26, authorizes “any person, firm, corporation, or association” to seek injunctive relief against threatened loss or damage by a violation of the antitrust laws.

The government normally uses Section 15 of the Clayton Act to enjoin a proposed merger or acquisition that may substantially lessen competition in violation of Section 7 of the Clayton Act. An injunction also normally is sought by the government as an additional remedy in its actions against violators of Sections 1 and 2 of the Sherman Act for activities such as price fixing and market allocation or monopolization or attempted monopolization. The Federal Trade Commission may seek a temporary injunction under the All Writs Act, 28 U.S.C.S. § 1651(a), to halt a proposed merger or acquisition pending a determination of the legality of the merger or acquisition.

Private Parties

Although private parties may also seek injunctive relief under Section 16 of the Clayton Act to prevent or halt a violation of the antitrust laws, more must be shown than in a federal government action before the court will grant a restraining order or an injunction. A private plaintiff may obtain injunctive relief only if the threatened or continuing loss or injury to be enjoined is the type of injury antitrust laws were designed to prevent, such as injury to competition rather than just a particular competitor. A private plaintiff may seek an injunction against any party that the government may seek to have enjoined except for common carriers subject to the Interstate Commerce Act.

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