Topkins is charged with price fixing in violation of the Sherman Act, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years and a fine of $1 million for individuals. The maximum fine for an individual may be increased to twice the gain derived from the crime or twice the loss suffered by the victims of the crime, if either of those amounts is greater than the statutory maximum fine.
Price fixing is an agreement (written, verbal, or inferred from conduct) among competitors to raise, lower, maintain, or stabilize prices or price levels. Generally, the antitrust laws require that each company establish prices and other competitive terms on its own, without agreeing with a competitor. When purchasers make choices about what products and services to buy, they expect that the price has been determined on the basis of supply and demand, not by an agreement among competitors. When competitors agree to restrict competition, the result is often higher prices. Price fixing also includes agreements among competing purchasers or competing employers about the prices or wages they will pay. Price fixing is a major concern of government antitrust enforcement. Individuals and companies that knowingly enter price-fixing agreements are routinely investigated by the FBI and other federal law enforcement agencies and can be criminally prosecuted. Potential penalties include lengthy terms of imprisonment (up to ten years) and large fines (up to $1 million for individuals, $100 million for companies, or twice the gain or loss from the offense). Where appropriate, the FTC may also bring a civil enforcement action.
A naked agreement among competitors to fix prices is almost always illegal, whether prices are specified at a minimum, maximum, or within some range. Illegal price fixing occurs whenever two or more competitors agree to take actions to raise, lower, maintain, or stabilize the price of any product or service. Price-fixing schemes are often worked out in secret and can be hard to uncover, but an agreement can be discovered from "circumstantial" evidence. For example, if direct competitors have a pattern of unexplained identical contract terms or price behavior together with other factors (such as the lack of legitimate, independent business explanation), unlawful price fixing may be the reason. Invitations to coordinate prices also can raise concerns, as when one competitor announces publicly that it is willing to end a price war or raise prices if its rival is willing to do the same.
Price fixing relates not only to prices, but also to other terms that affect prices to purchasers, such as credit terms, shipping fees, warranties, discount programs, or financing rates. Antitrust scrutiny may occur when competitors discuss the following topics:
A defendant is allowed to argue that there was no agreement, but if the government or a private party proves a plain price-fixing agreement, there is no defense to it. Defendants may not justify their behavior by arguing that the prices were reasonable to purchasers, were necessary to avoid cut-throat competition, or stimulated competition.
Example: A group of competing optometrists agreed not to participate in a vision care network unless the network raised reimbursement rates for patients covered by its plan. The optometrists refused to treat patients covered by the network plan, and, eventually, the company raised reimbursement rates. The FTC said that the optometrists' agreement was illegal price fixing, and that its leaders had organized an effort to make sure other optometrists knew about and complied with the agreement.
An agreement to restrict production, sales, or output is just as illegal as direct price fixing, because reducing the supply of a product or service drives up its price. For example, the FTC challenged an agreement among competing oil importers to restrict the supply of lubricants by refusing to import or sell those products in Puerto Rico. The competitors were seeking to pressure the legislature to repeal an environmental deposit fee on lubricants, and warned of lubricant shortages and higher prices. The FTC alleged that the conspiracy was an unlawful horizontal agreement to restrict output that was inherently likely to harm competition and that had no countervailing efficiencies that would benefit consumers.
A: A uniform, simultaneous price change could be the result of price fixing, but it could also be the result of independent business responses to the same market conditions. For example, if conditions in the international oil market cause an increase in the price of crude oil, this could lead to an increase in the wholesale price of gasoline. Local gasoline stations may respond to higher wholesale gasoline prices by increasing their prices to cover these higher costs. Other market forces, such as publicly posting current prices (as is common with most gasoline stations), encourages suppliers to adjust their own prices quickly in order not to lose sales. If there is evidence that the gasoline station operators talked to each other about increasing prices and agreed on a common pricing plan, however, that may be an antitrust violation.
CME Group publishes fixing prices for several futures products offered across Equity Indices, Interest Rates, FX, and Cryptocurrencies. These fixing prices are typically calculated based on the volume-weighted average price (VWAP) of contracts traded during a pre-defined window of time. These price references are used to determine the exercise and assignment of options positions at expiration and serve as an informational reference point for market participants. Fixing prices also can play an important role in determination of price limits during rapidly moving markets.
FX futures fixing prices are used to determine the exercise and assignment of corresponding options positions at expiration. The prices are calculated on the VWAP of futures contracts traded in the 60-second window ending at 10:00:00 a.m. Eastern Time (New York /9:00 a.m. Central Time) with the exception of MXN, CNH and RUB which follow local conventions.
In response to index valuation time changes being adopted in isolated areas of the fixed income index space, CME Group is now publishing unofficial fixings for Treasury futures and MAC Swap futures products as of 3:00 p.m. CT (4:00 p.m. ET).
Equity Index futures special fixing prices are used to determine whether corresponding weekly and end-of-month options positions are in the money at expiration. The prices are calculated on the VWAP of nearest expiring futures contracts traded in the 30-second window ending at 4:00 p.m. Eastern Time.
Cryptocurrency futures fixing prices are based on notionally adjusted VWAP of larger and Micro futures contracts of their corresponding token during the 30 minutes prior to the 4:00 p.m. New York close (30 minutes prior to 4:00 p.m. London close for euro-denominated contracts).
And a year later, the co-conspirators became even more concerned when they heard about an ongoing price-fixing investigation in the U.S. into the dynamic random access memory (DRAM) industry. To avoid detection, group members decided to meet one-on-one with each other in restaurants and cafes.
In January 2021, several consumers filed a price-fixing lawsuit against Amazon in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. The consumers assert Amazon colluded with major publishing firms to drive up the price of e-books. The lawsuit asserts Amazon used anticompetitive contracts to drive up the cost of e-books.
Under the Sherman Act, individuals convicted of price-fixing agreements face up to 10 years' imprisonment and a fine of $1 million. Both DOJ and the Federal Trade Commission (\"FTC\") have analogized wages to the \"price\" of labor, as outlined in their 2016 \"Antitrust Guidance for Human Resources Professionals.\"
Criminal antitrust prosecution often leads to private plaintiffs challenging the same conduct in civil litigation seeking damages; even companies or executives that cooperate with DOJ and obtain \"leniency\" from criminal prosecution face this civil risk. And even if the government does not criminally enforce wage fixing or other employment-related collusion, such conduct remains subject to civil challenge by the antitrust agencies or private plaintiffs.
Under the Sherman Act, individuals convicted of price-fixing agreements face up to 10 years' imprisonment and a fine of $1 million. Both DOJ and the Federal Trade Commission ("FTC") have analogized wages to the "price" of labor, as outlined in their 2016 "Antitrust Guidance for Human Resources Professionals."
Criminal antitrust prosecution often leads to private plaintiffs challenging the same conduct in civil litigation seeking damages; even companies or executives that cooperate with DOJ and obtain "leniency" from criminal prosecution face this civil risk. And even if the government does not criminally enforce wage fixing or other employment-related collusion, such conduct remains subject to civil challenge by the antitrust agencies or private plaintiffs.
Biological nitrogen fixation is the process that changes inert N2 into biologically useful NH3. This process is mediated in nature only by N-fixing rhizobia bacteria (Rhizobiaceae, α-Proteobacteria) (Sørensen and Sessitsch, 2007). Other plants benefit from N-fixing bacteria when the bacteria die and release nitrogen to the environment, or when the bacteria live in close association with the plant. In legumes and a few other plants, the bacteria live in small growths on the roots called nodules. Within these nodules, nitrogen fixation is done by the bacteria, and the NH3 they produce is absorbed by the plant. Nitrogen fixation by legumes is a partnership between a bacterium and a plant. 041b061a72