Adopting an Effective Antitrust Compliance Program
The Trade Association Connection
For many companies, participation in trade association activities istheir greatest singleantitrust risk. Indeed, the mere existence of a trade association supplies the element of combination,a necessary element for most antitrust convictions.Thus, theantitrust enforcersinvariablyinvestigate trade associations when investigating alleged industry antitrust violations or allegedviolations by member companies, looking for evidenceof pricefixing, market divisions, boycottsand/or other anti-competitive activities and agreements.All too often the reasons for joiningeither fall on the wrong side of the line legally, or donot serve legitimate business objectives, whether from antitrust, internal revenue, or cost effectivepointsof view.Therefore, if the only purpose for joining is to have an excuse to socialize withcompetitors, this may not be enough of a reason business-wise, and may well prove to be counter-productive and dangerous antitrust-wise. Then too, if the real purpose is to rationalize competition,fix prices, divide customers, allocate territories, limit production, or the like, the antitrust risks arecertainly too great, no matter what the lawful benefits may appear to be.
PART I-BENEFITS AND RISKS
ve had a really hard week, andyouneed a cocktail or two with understandingand sympathetic company, orthe sun is finally shining, andyourready fora round or twoof golf, orits Wednesday and time to have lunch with the guys again,where do yougo?To seek legalcounsel? No,toyour regularTrade Association get-together, wheretheytalkyourlanguage,wheretheyknowyourinterestsand business, andwhere theyare ready toscratchyourbackif you
Don’t worry, you need not answer
I’m not a G
-Man!The place of associations in American society pre-dates the adoption in 1776 of one of thegreatest "association" documents of all time, the Declaration of Independence, which was actuallythe "association charter" of the combination of the thirteen colonies in their conspiracy to overthrowthe yoke of the British Crown.The first long-lasting domestic trade association, the Philadelphia