Trade Association Antitrust Guidelines

When called upon to participate in trade associations, employees and agents of building product manufacturers must understand and comply with antitrust laws.

Antitrust laws prohibit firms in the same industry from conspiring to restrain trade. There are potential civil and criminal penalties for violations under United States antitrust laws. Potential consequences of violating or appearing to violate antitrust laws can be severe for trade associations, member companies, and their employees.

When attending trade association meetings and other activities, you must follow general guidelines in order to avoid violations of antitrust laws.

Topics that must be avoided include:

  1. Pricing: This includes current or future prices or costs; what is a fair profit level; increases or decreases in price; standardizing or stabilizing prices; and pricing procedures.
  2. Sales Territories: Dividing customers or allocating sales territories or markets.
  3. Limiting Supply: Agreements encouraging or discouraging members from purchasing equipment, supplies, or raw materials from any supplier or from dealing with any supplier or restricting the volume of goods produced or made available for sale.
  4. Boycotts: Restricting the purchasing or dealing with particular outsiders.
  5. Discussions concerning specific agreements or disputes,  past or present, between members.
Administrative guidelines include the following recommendations:

Meetings must have an agenda that should be strictly followed. Minutes of each meeting should be prepared. The minutes should accurately reflect the subjects discussed and actions taken at the meetings.

Members should not hold informal gatherings. No substantive discussions should take place outside official meetings.

Association membership should not be arbitrarily awarded. It is assumed that members derive an economic benefit from being association members; therefore denial of membership to an otherwise qualified applicant can be seen as restraint on trade since it might limit the ability of the applicant to compete.

Specifications or standards developed shall not be based on any anticompetitive purpose. Adherence to specifications or standards shall be voluntary.

Please note that these guidelines are recommendations and are not comprehensive. Legal counsel should be contacted when potential antitrust issues arise.

Chusid Associates has worked with many building industry trade associations to develop promotional, technical, standards writing, educational, and marketing programs. We also serve on industry committees to serve our clients' interests. Contact Michael Chusid if we can be of assistance to you.