Antitrust Law

As part of the superordinate competition law, antitrust law aims to preserve a functioning, unhindered and diverse competition. The main purpose is to control and combat accumulation and abuse of market power as well as the coordination and limitation of competitive behaviour of independent market participants.

Cartels are mergers or agreements between companies with the purpose of restraining or distorting competition and achieving economic advantages at the same time. The German Act against Restraints of Competition prevents this procedure by its provisions.

Examples of restraints of competition between competitors are price agreements, agreements on conditions, market sharing (territories, customers, quotas), resale price maintenance, maximum price fixing, price recommendations, most-favoured-nation clauses, sourcing commitments and non-competition clauses, territorial protection/exclusivity as well as selective distribution. Abusive behaviour by market-dominating companies concerns price discrimination, delivery refusal, prohibition of coupling, sales below cost price and discount systems.

Antitrust provisions are not only an issue for international major corporations. Small and medium-sized companies have to comply with these provisions as well. If they are disregarded, there is a risk of considerable economic and legal disadvantages. In addition to claims for damages and fines, invalidity of contracts or even entire distribution structures is to be expected.

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