Passed by Congress in 1890, the Sherman Anti-trust Act remains, to this day, the primary law that allows the federal government to intervene in markets for the purpose of maintaining competition. Though containing only two brief substantive sections, the Sherman Act is a highly influential piece of legislation. Section One of the act prohibits companies from deciding to coordinate their prices, rather than compete. The owner of Sotheby’s, the world’s renowned auction house, was sent to jail for violating Section One by forming a cartel with Christie’s, the other world-renowned auction house. Section Two prohibits a company from trying to monopolize a market. For example, Microsoft was accused by the U.S. Department of Justice of violating Section Two when it tried to monopolize the Internet browser market.
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