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Clayton Antitrust Act

Clayton Antitrust Act

What Is the Clayton Antitrust Act?

The Clayton Antitrust Act is a piece of legislation, passed by the U.S. Congress and endorsed into law in 1914, that defines unscrupulous business practices, for example, price fixing and syndications, and maintains different rights of labor. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) enforce the provisions of the Clayton Antitrust Act, which keep on influencing American business practices today.

Understanding the Clayton Antitrust Act

At the turn of the twentieth century, a small bunch of large U.S. corporations started to overwhelm whole industry sections by taking part in predatory pricing, exclusive dealings, and mergers designed to destroy contenders.

In 1914, Rep. Henry De Lamar Clayton of Alabama acquainted legislation with direct the behavior of gigantic substances. The bill passed the House of Representatives with a tremendous majority on June 5, 1914. Then the Senate passed its own form, and a last rendition, in view of deliberation among House and Senate, passed the Senate on Oct. 6 and the House on Oct. 8. President Woodrow Wilson marked the initiative into law on Oct. 15, 1914.

The act is enforced by the FTC and prohibits exclusive sales contracts, certain types of rebates, biased freight agreements, and nearby price-cutting moves. It additionally prohibits certain types of holding companies. As per the FTC, the Clayton Act additionally permits private gatherings to make a legal move against companies and look for triple damages when they have been hurt by conduct that disregards the Clayton Act. They may likewise look for and get a court order against any future anticompetitive practice.

Furthermore, the Clayton Act determines that labor is definitely not an economic commodity. It maintains issues helpful for organized labor, declaring tranquil strikes, picketing, blacklists, agricultural cooperatives, and labor unions as legal under federal law.

There are 27 sections to the Clayton Act. Among them, the most prominent include:

  • The subsequent section, which deals with the unlawfulness of price discrimination, price cutting, and predatory pricing.
  • The third section, which tends to exclusive dealings or the endeavor to make a monopoly.
  • The fourth section, which states the right of private lawsuits of any individual harmed by anything forbidden in the antitrust laws.
  • The 6th section, which covers labor and the exemption of the workforce.
  • The seventh section, which handles mergers and acquisitions and is frequently alluded to when different companies endeavor to turn into a single entity.

The Clayton Antitrust Act orders that companies that need to consolidate must advise and receive permission from the government through the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to do as such.

Special Considerations

The Clayton Act is still in force today, essentially in its original form. Nonetheless, it was to some degree amended by the Robinson-Patman Act of 1936 and the Celler-Kefauver Act of 1950. The Robinson-Patman Act reinforces laws against price discrimination among customers. The Celler-Kefauver Act prohibits one company from obtaining the stock or assets of another firm on the off chance that an acquisition lessens competition. It further stretches out antitrust laws to cover a wide range of mergers across industries, not just horizontal ones inside a similar sector.

The Clayton Act was additionally amended by the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976. This amendment expects that companies planning big mergers or acquisitions spread the word about their goals for the government before making any such move.

Clayton Antitrust Act versus Sherman Antitrust Act

The Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890 was proposed by Sen. John Sherman of Ohio and later amended by the Clayton Antitrust Act. The Sherman Act precluded trusts and outlawed monopolistic business practices, putting forth them illegal trying to reinforce competition inside the marketplace.

The act contained three sections. The main section defined and banned various types of anticompetitive conduct, the subsequent section addressed the outcome considered to be anticompetitive, and the third and last section extended the provisions in the principal section to include the District of Columbia and any U.S. regions.

In any case, the language utilized in the Sherman Act was deemed too obscure. This permitted businesses to keep participating in operations that discouraged competition and fair pricing. These controlling practices straightforwardly impacted nearby worries and frequently drove more modest substances out of business, which required the death of the Clayton Antitrust Act in 1914.

While the Clayton Act proceeds with the Sherman Act's ban on anticompetitive mergers and the practice of price discrimination, it additionally resolves issues that the older act didn't cover by outlawing beginning forms of unscrupulous behavior. For instance, while the Sherman Act made restraining infrastructures illegal, the Clayton Act bans operations intended to lead to the formation of imposing business models.


  • The act likewise safeguards individuals by permitting lawsuits against companies and upholding the rights of labor to arrange and protest calmly.
  • There have been several amendments to the act, growing its provisions.
  • Intended to reinforce before antitrust legislation, the act prohibits anticompetitive mergers, predatory and biased pricing, and different forms of exploitative corporate behavior.
  • The Clayton Antitrust Act of 1914 keeps on managing U.S. business practices today.


Is the Clayton Act the Only Piece of Antitrust Legislation?

No. There are three primary antitrust laws in the United States. Aside from the Clayton Act, there are additionally the Sherman Act and the Federal Trade Commission Act.

What Is the Clayton Act's Overall Goal?

The Clayton Act, related to other antitrust laws, is responsible for ensuring that companies observe the rules and that there is fair competition in the marketplace, which, as per economic theory, ought to lead to bring down prices, better quality, greater innovation, and wider decision.

Is the Clayton Act Necessary?

A great many people concur that these types of antitrust laws benefit society. Assuming companies were given free rein to create gains no holds barred, it would probably demonstrate detrimental to everybody other than the company that ended up as the winner. There are, nonetheless, many individuals who go against antitrust laws like the Clayton Act. In their view, permitting businesses to contend without limitations and to completely capitalize on their market power would eventually demonstrate positive for consumers and the economy.