The prohibitions of the common law against contracts in restraint of trade have in most jurisdictions been reinforced by statutes, which are generally aimed not only at contracts, but at all combinations by which monopoly is sought or obtained. Particular examination of these statutes is impossible;1 but something must be said of the Sherman Act, both because of its intrinsic importance and because of the effect of the decisions under it on the conception of illegal restraint of trade at common law. This Act makes criminal every contract, combination or conspiracy, in restraint of interstate or foreign commerce, and monopolizing or attempting to monopolize any part of such trade; and gives to any person injured in his business by anything forbidden by the statute a right to recover treble damages and costs.2
1They are summarised in "Trust Laws and Unfair Competition." U. S. Government Printing Office (1916).
2 Sec. 1. Every 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 hereby declared to be illegal. Every person who shall make any such contract or engage in any such combination or conspiracy, shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, and, on conviction thereof, shall be punished by fine not exceeding five thousand dollars, or by imprisonment not exceeding one year, or by both said punishments, in the discretion of the court.
Sec. 2. Every person who shall monopolize, or attempt to monopolize, or combine or conspire with any other person or persons, to monopolize any part of the trade or commerce among the several States, or with foreign nations, shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, and, on conviction thereof, shall be punished by a fine not exceeding five thousand dollars, or by imprisonment not exceeding one year, or by both said punishments, in the discretion, of the court.
Section 3 applies the prohibitions of the first section to commerce within the Territories or the District of Columbia or to commerce between such jurisdictions or between them and the States and foreign nations.
Sections 4 and 5 give the Federal circuit courts jurisdiction (now transferred to the United States District Courts) to enforce the law and provide that proceedings in equity may be brought by the United States Government to prevent and restrain violations thereof. Hie courts may make other persons parties to the proceedings.
Section 6 authorizes the seizure and condemnation of property in the course of transportation in interstate commerce or to a foreign country belonging to combinations, etc, prohibited in the first section.