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Labor: Competitor collaborations and the antitrust laws

How to work with rivals for procompetitive ends


The antitrust laws are intended to promote and protect competition by prohibiting unreasonable restraints to it. In theory, the presence of competition leads to lower prices, higher quality and increased output of goods and services, all of which are beneficial to consumers. Collaborations between rivals (direct competitors) raise antitrust concerns because they can lead to the formation of unlawful agreements (as to prices, supplies and the exclusion of competitors) or indirectly used to facilitate such agreements. That said, competitor collaborations in the form of trade associations, industry groups, collectives, joint ventures can promote and protect competition by engaging in a variety of lawful activities, including:

Competitor collaborations can be procompetitive

Competitor collaborations take many forms including trade associations, industry groups, collectives and joint ventures. Competitive rivals can promote and protect competition in the many ways listed in the introduction. Sharing technology, technical know-how and intellectual property between rivals, for example, can be pro-competitive, speeding-up critical product advancements and development which substantially benefits consumers. Despite such consumer benefits, these circumstances can raise antitrust concerns because of the risk that competitive rivals will seize the opportunity to enter into unlawful agreements or exchange prices or other information which can be used to facilitate unlawful agreements in the future, leading to consumer harm.

Contributing Author

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Todd Seelman

Todd R. Seelman is a managing partner for the Denver office of Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith LLP and is the chair of the firm's...

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