Apple Faces Sherman's March
NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Twice in the last few weeks Apple(AAPL) has found itself on the receiving end of government antitrust enforcement.
Just as the dust was settling on the charge that Apple conspired to fix the price of e-books with major publishers, a judge said Apple will have to stand trial in antitrust suit alleging it conspired with Google, Intel and other Silicon Valley heavyweights not to steal each others employees.
Antitrust is not mentioned in the Constitution, although Thomas Jefferson did write about what he called "monopolies," which were in fact patent and copyright laws.
The question of corporate antitrust is a great Republican invention, and John Sherman, "the Ohio Icicle" and younger brother of William Tecumseh Sherman (of whom many in my home state of Georgia have heard) is the father. The 1890 Sherman Antitrust Act makes for some intense reading:
Section 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 declared to be illegal....
Section 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 felony.
Note that the law doesn't only prohibit single companies from monopolizing enormous markets. It also prohibits any restraint of trade, engaged in by one or several. And it's a felony.
Note, too, that in the case of the antitrust law, "person" can refer to a corporation.