California Cartwright Act

California's Main Antitrust Law

The Cartwright Act is the primary California state antitrust law prohibiting anti-competitive activity. It generally mirrors federal antitrust law under the Sherman Antitrust Act and the Clayton Antitrust Act. The Cartwright Act prohibits any agreements among competitors to restrain trade, fix prices or production, or reduce competition.

Private parties can sue for violations of the Cartwright Act. The plaintiffs in Cartwright Act lawsuits are generally competitors who allege unfair competition, or consumers who allege that price fixing or restraints on trade have increased the prices they paid.

Prohibited Antitrust Activities under the CA Cartwright Act

The Cartwright Act prohibits combinations of two or more persons’ capital, skill, or acts to restrict trade or commerce. Where the Sherman Act prohibits only “restraints of trade,” the Cartwright Act is more detailed in its list of prohibited actions. These include:

  • Price Fixing: agreement between competitors to buy or sell products, services, or commodities at a fixed price or rate
  • Group Boycotting: competitors agreeing to boycott a certain entity
  • Market Division Scheme: agreement between competitors to divide markets, products, customers or territories amongst themselves
  • Exclusive Dealings: requiring a buyer or seller to do buy or sell all or most of a certain product from a single supplier
  • Price Discrimination: similar goods to buyers at different prices
  • Tying: selling a product or service on the condition that the buyer agrees to also buy a different product or service

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