Sherman Antitrust Act


The Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890 is a federal statute which prohibits activities that restrict interstate commerce and competition in the marketplace. The Sherman Act was amended by the Clayton Act in 1914. The Sherman Act is codified in 15 U.S.C. §§ 1-38.  


Broad and sweeping in scope, § 1 of the Act states that “[e]very contract, combination in the form of trust or otherwise, or conspiracy, in restraint of trade or commerce among the several States, or with foreign nations, is declared to be illegal.” § 2 of the Act prohibits monopolization or attempts at monopolizing any aspect of interstate trade or commerce and makes the act a a felony.

Enforcement and Procedure  

Antitrust are typically instituted by United States Attorneys in their respective districts.

Federal district courts have the jurisdiction to enjoin actions which violate the Sherman Act. 

Under § 6, the Sherman Act does not apply to trade or commerce with foreign nations unless there was conduct that has a “direct, substantial, and reasonably foreseeable effect” and that effect gives rise to a claim under the Sherman Act.

Treble Damages

Treble damages refers to a court awarding actual damages which are equivalent to three times the amount of injury that the injured party has suffered. Treble damages is  

Insurance Law

In insurance law, the McCarran-Ferguson Act of 1945 (15 U.S.C. §§ 1011-1015) allows the Sherman Act to extend to the “business of insurance” only to the extent where: (1) such business is not regulated by state law (§ 1012), or (2) there are insurer or acts of, “boycott, coercion, or intimidation” (§ 1013).

Further Reading

For more on the Sherman Antitrust Act, see this Berkeley Law Review article, this Harvard Law Review article, and this Stanford Law Review article.