Market Division / Customer Allocation
Our antitrust lawyers represent businesses and consumers harmed by illegal market division / customer allocation schemes. A customer or market allocation conspiracy is an agreement by competitors to divide markets or customers for a product or service. The purpose of the agreement is to eliminate competition for each competitor’s designated share of the market.
Market division or customer allocation may be accomplished by allowing each competitor the exclusive right to deal with specific:
• customers or classes of customers
• geographic portions of a market
• portions of a market divided by percentages or numbers of customers
A market division scheme can also involve an agreement among participants to refrain from competing for each other’s existing customers or markets.
Regardless of how the scheme is carried out, the result is a virtual monopoly by each conspirator for that conspirator’s designated market share. This eliminates competition for pricing as well as for customers or territories. Conspirators can then charge their respective customers higher prices without risk of being undercut by their competitors.
Market Division / Customer Allocation Lawsuits
Market allocation is a form of agreement not to compete. Agreements not to compete that unreasonably hinder competition may violate both federal and state antitrust laws.
Horizontal market division schemes (those among direct competitors) violate the Sherman Act by:
• eliminating competition among conspiring competitors, and
• keeping other competitors from a market
In federal antitrust actions brought under the Sherman Act, courts award successful claimants reasonable attorneys’ fees and monetary damages equal to three times their actual losses. In appropriate cases, a court may also order the defendants to cease any further activity related to the prohibited conspiracy. Plaintiffs in private market division / customer allocation antitrust actions may also receive damages and injunctive relief under certain states’ antitrust laws.
Contact an Antitrust Lawyer
Illegal market division / customer allocation agreements injure businesses by eliminating competition for markets and customers. They also harm consumers by enabling conspirators to charge them prices uncontrolled by the natural supply and demand forces of an unmanipulated market. If you have suffered financial loss as a business or consumer due to an illegal market or customer allocation scheme, contact us today to schedule an evaluation of your case without charge.