Around the world, especially in the United States, there is a heavy emphasis on #antitrust legislation when it comes to business. Defined as "preventing or controlling trusts or other monopolies, and so promoting fair competition in business" as stated on www.google.co.uk, antitrust legislation clearly has a strong effect on business. However, what needs to be explored is if such measures are fair and whether such actions have a negative effect on people in business already.
Where antitrust is appropriate
Although antitrust legislation exists to prevent monopolies and ensure fair competition between businesses, a few questions remain. What is wrong with a business having a monopololy on the market? And what is the problem exactly? For me, the situation only becomes a problem when the #Consumer is negatively affected. In instances where the consumer has been taken advantage of, antitrust legislation is fair and appropriate. A prime example includes the camera company Kodak. As stated on www.hg.org, over the course of the previous century, Kodak was the "only manufacturer and seller of the coloured film" and were the only company that understood "how to process this film". The problem was exacerbated by Kodak taking advantage of their position by charging customers a fee to "send the film, process it and deliver it". At one point Kodak had 96 percent of the market in the United States. As a result antitrust legislation was filed in the United States, both in 1921 and 1954, in which restrictions were placed on the Kodak business.
Even in modern times antitrust legislation has been applied correctly too. At the end of the 20th Century a lawsuit was filed against the computer giant Microsoft. The claim was made by the Justice Department in the United States that #Microsoft had "hurt consumers by stifling competition in the software marketplace", as reported in www.nytimes.com. Even in Europe action was taken, this time against Google by the European Commission's (EC) antitrust lawsuits. www.fortune.com stated that the EC threatened to impose an up to $7 billion fine on the tech giant for "forcing Android manufacturers to use Google Search" amongst other things.
The problem with no clear evidence
What this clearly shows is that when the consumer is at risk of being exploited and thus being helpless, anti-trust action should be applied as a result. However, where there is no evidence of exploitation by a controlling company, it is here that I find a problem. The example of Staples and Office Depot demonstrates this. The case, brought before the Federal Trade Commission following the attempts of the two companies to merge, was referred to by the companies as being "fatally flawed" as www.law360.com reported. In addition Staples counsel Diane Sullivan stated that the government had not carried its burden to prove that the merger would cause a definite antitrust market and that "they have the burden to prove the market and have failed utterly". Staples' attorney went on to further say that the government had excluded ink and toner to "gin up" the merged Staples' market share of office supplies.
Problems going forward
It is clear that there is sometimes a trigger happy response to large, dominant corporations. As stated above, of course they are well within their means to prosecute large companies if they are doing a disservice to the consumer. But where there is no evidence of such that is where the problem lies. Where does this also leave other budding entrepreneurs, where the message is, don't be too successful or you will be punished for it? As a long as the market is not negatively effected, such entrepreneurship should be encouraged and applauded. I agree that competition between businesses is healthy and further promotes enterprise, but one should not be punished for simply being better. If that is the case, the future of the market place will be extremely bleak for years to come.