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“Persons” Subject to the Sherman Act

Sections 1 through 3 of the Sherman Act, 15 U.S.C.S. §§ 1-3, provide for prison terms, fines, and damages to be assessed against “persons” who enter into agreements in restraint of trade or who monopolize, attempt to monopolize or conspire to monopolize trade.

Section 8 of the Sherman Act deems a “person” to “include corporations and associations existing under or authorized by the laws of either the United States, the laws of any of the territories, the laws of any State, or the laws of any foreign country.” While the word “person” is not defined in the Sherman Act to include an individual, the U.S. Supreme Court has decided that “person” must include an individual officer or a director of a company or association because such an organization cannot act except through individuals or officers and directors.

States and local governments are considered “persons” under Section 8 of the Sherman Act, but the United States and its agencies are not. Also, foreign countries are not considered persons under Section 8.

Various types of associations fall within the reference in Section 8 of the Sherman Act to “associations.” For example, labor unions, cooperatives, and various marketing groups have been held to fall within the meaning of “associations.”

Copyright 2011 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc.

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