Other Antitrust Battles


Here is a list of some of the major cases since the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890 came into force:

Standard Oil

* The U.S. Supreme Court ruled for the government in 1911, ending a long antitrust case and opening the way for the breakup of John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil which was charged with monopolizing the oil business by buying rivals, forcing railroads to discriminate against Standard’s rivals and other means. As a result, Standard was split into 34 companies, many of which survive as some of the world’s largest oil companies, including Exxon Mobil, Chevron and Amoco.

U.S. Steel

* U.S. Steel was accused of monopolizing the steel trade by sheer force of size. The company controlled two-thirds of the market. In 1920, the Supreme Court ruled that size alone does not make a monopoly. The case halted major federal antitrust cases for about two decades.


American Tobacco

* American Tobacco was charged with using predatory pricing and other means to monopolize the cigarette business. The firm controlled 95% of the U.S. market for tobacco products. The company was found guilty in 1911 and split into 16 firms. Two major survivors are R.J. Reynolds and British American Tobacco. The decision was upheld in 1946.

Aluminum Co. of America

* The government fought through World War II to end Alcoa’s aluminum monopoly. In the end, the government sold aluminum war-production plants to Reynolds Aluminum and Kaiser Aluminum.

IBM Corp.

* The case against International Business Machines Corp. lasted from 1969 to 1982 and is the case most often cited when comparing with Microsoft. IBM had a market share of 65%, less than the government now says Microsoft has in key software. The case was dismissed in 1982 after a delay that commentators said had made it a “relic.”


* AT&T; was accused of using its monopoly of local phone service to exclude competitors from the related long-distance and telephone equipment markets. The case began in 1974 and was settled in 1982, on the same day the IBM suit ended. AT&T; kept its long-distance business and agreed to spin off seven local phone companies. The spinoff firms are known as Baby Bells.

Intel Corp.

* Intel and the government settled an antitrust suit in March 1999. The government had charged the computer chip maker illegally used monopoly power to “extort” valuable technology developed by three sometime rivals. Intel products run roughly 85% of the world’s personal computers. In the settlement, Intel promised to share some technical details with other companies but did not have to admit it held monopoly power.