Federal and state antitrust laws are designed to protect and promote competition. They do this by making it illegal for competitors and associations of competitors to fix prices or unreasonably restrain competition. Violations of antitrust laws can be punished with large financial penalties, as well as criminal penalties against involved businesses and individuals. In addition, antitrust violations can severely damage a business' reputation and commercial relationships.
Download the Federal Trade Commission Guide to the Antitrust Laws (PDF)
In the interest of facilitating collaboration among members, trade association can unwittingly create opportunities for competitors to engage in anti-competitive behavior. As one court has said: "Competitors are permitted by the antitrust laws…to engage in cooperative behavior, under trade association auspices or otherwise, provided they don't reduce competition among themselves or help their suppliers or customers to reduce competition."
AIAG is committed to antitrust compliance and expects the same from its members. It is AIAG's belief that competition is the fairest and most efficient type of economic behavior. Any activity that intentionally or unintentionally reduces competition or restrains trade is contrary to that belief and AIAG policy.
As stated in AIAG's bylaws, it is AIAG's intention to comply fully with antitrust laws in the conduct of its activities. In addition, AIAG's management and staff must do everything in their power to ensure that AIAG and AIAG's members do not violate antitrust laws while engaged in AIAG-facilitated activities.
Specific management responsibilities include the following:
- AIAG's Executive Director must periodically review this policy statement with AIAG management personnel and its Board of Directors.
- AIAG's legal counsel for antitrust matters must periodically review AIAG's antitrust policy and meet with AIAG's management to provide antitrust training.
- AIAG's legal counsel for antitrust matters must review in advance all new AIAG programs that may have antitrust implications.
- AIAG's management must discuss any possible or prospective violations of the antitrust laws with the Executive Director or AIAG's legal counsel for antitrust matters.
- AIAG's management must ensure that this policy is displayed in venues where it will remind management and members of the importance of antitrust compliance, including AIAG's website and physical offices.
- AIAG's management personnel must ensure that every AIAG meeting, whether held in AIAG's offices, off-site, or by electronic means, are not held without fulfilling the following requirements:
- A public announcement of the meeting date, time, and location;
- An agenda, published in advance, that calls for review of this antitrust policy and verbalization of the Meeting Antitrust Requirements set forth below;
- A complete list of all attendees;
- Minutes noting the verbalization of the Meeting Antitrust Requirements and listing every topic of discussion; and
- Archiving of minutes and other records of any meetings.
Meeting Antitrust Requirements
AIAG members must comply with the following requirements when meeting in AIAG's offices, off-site, or by electronic means. If any of these requirements are at risk of being breached during a meeting by inappropriate dialog, then participating members should immediately request any such dialog be ceased immediately. If such dialog is not ceased immediately, then all participants must immediately suspend the meeting and report the dialog to AIAG's Executive Director.
These requirements are partial. Other types of activity on the part of members may comprise antitrust violations. General questions regarding these requirements should be raised to the Executive Director or AIAG's legal counsel for antitrust matters. However, it is incumbent upon members to seek the advice of their own legal counsel with respect to specific questions and incidents.
Requirements regarding your company's or your competitors' products and services:
- Do not discuss current or future prices.
- Do not discuss any increase or decrease in prices.
- Do not discuss pricing procedures.
- Do not discuss standardizing or stabilizing prices.
- Do not ask competitors why a past bid was so low, or to describe the basis for a past bid.
- Do not discuss what is a fair profit level.
- Do not discuss controlling sales or allocating geographic, product or other markets for any product.
- Do not discuss future design or marketing strategies.
- Do not discuss credit terms.
- Do not discuss banning or otherwise restricting legitimate advertising by competitors.
- Do not discuss allocating customers.
Requirements regarding your company's and/or your competitors' selection of their supplier companies:
- Do not discuss refusing to deal with a company because of its pricing or distribution practices.
- Do not discuss strategies or plans to award business or remove business from a specific company.
Requirements regarding your company's and/or competitors' trade secrets:
Do not discuss trade secrets or confidential information of your company or any other member.
Both your company and you as an individual can be prosecuted for violations of antitrust laws.
AIAG's copyright policy state that all products developed by AIAG groups are the property of and are copyrighted by AIAG with the exception of those created jointly with another organization and covered by separate agreement.
Ownership of intellectual property contributed to AIAG transfers to AIAG as soon as the development of the document begins. If the intellectual property that is contributed is copyrighted, written permission to use the intellectual property is required and the permission statement will be included in the document.
AIAG will acknowledge such contributors in each publication.