The big news in antitrust enforcement is always the international investigation that ends in a fine of tens or hundreds of millions of dollars, such as last year’s agreement by Samsung to pay $300 million for fixing the price of DRAM chips or last week’s agreement by Akzo Nobel to pay $32 million for fixing the price of hydrogen peroxide. Even when the Justice Department announces its statistics, the headline is the amount of money collected in fines. But if this gives comfort to small companies and their counsel, they should think again.

Although nonspecialists sometimes believe that the antitrust laws are aimed at limiting the power of big businesses, these laws, particularly the criminal provisions of the Sherman Act, are enforced against all manner of companies. Small businesses do get discovered, prosecuted and convicted.

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