The antitrust lawyers of Kohn, Swift & Graf represent businesses (target companies) and consumers who sustain financial injury from group boycotts. A group boycott is collusion by two or more competitors to keep a current or potential competitor (the target company) from a market. The conspiring companies accomplish this by refusing to deal with a company unless that company agrees not to do business with the target company.
A group of competing brick-and-mortar book retailers, for example, might collectively refuse to purchase inventory from a particular supplier unless the supplier agrees not to sell to a targeted online book retailer. Although the conspirators are in direct competition with each other, the conspiracy benefits all of them by reducing or eliminating competition from the online retailer.
Group Boycott Lawsuits
A group boycott may violate federal and state antitrust laws if:
• horizontal (direct) competitors for a specific market join in the conspiracy, and
• the competitors lack a reasonable business justification for the boycott
Some courts also require plaintiffs to demonstrate that the defendants:
• possessed sufficient market power to reduce or eliminate the target company’s ability to compete, or
• exerted control over a facility or resource the target company needed in order to compete
While illegal group boycotts always involve collusion among horizontal competitors, parties in a vertical relationship to the colluding competitors may also take part in the conspiracy. These may be customers, suppliers, manufacturers, and others up and down a distribution chain that benefit from the boycott scheme. As long as horizontal collusion exists, those involved in the vertical aspect of the conspiracy can still be liable as participants in the unlawful boycott.
Damages in Group Boycott Actions
Damages recoverable by target companies and consumers in group boycott cases include tripled actual losses and reasonable attorneys’ fees. Courts may also issue injunctions against group boycott participants to stop or prevent illegal group boycotts.
Contact an Antitrust Lawyer
Group boycotts prevent businesses from taking part in fair competition and force consumers to pay higher prices for goods and services. If you suffered economic loss as a business or consumer as a result of a group boycott conspiracy, contact Kohn, Swift & Graf to schedule an evaluation of your case without charge.