What are California’s principal antitrust and trade regulation laws?

California’s principal antitrust and trade regulations laws are the Cartwright Act (prohibiting trusts), the Unfair Practices Act, and general unfair competition law and false advertising statutes.

Cartwright Act

California’s Cartwright Act is similar to the federal antitrust law in that it prohibits businesses from entering into agreements that limit their ability to freely trade and change prices. The primary protection offered by this act is the prevention of price fixing. Price fixing is where businesses conspire to lock identical prices onto certain products, thus eliminating options for consumers. Other parts of the act prohibit group boycotts, which is where a group of businesses refuse to buy from a certain vendor, thus forcing them out of business. 

Unfair Practices Act

The Unfair Practices Act forbids three strategies a business might use. First, a seller may not sell a product below their cost as an attempt to drive their competition out of business. Second, a seller cannot sell the same product or service for different prices to different areas, as this is considered locality discrimination. Finally, a seller cannot offer exclusive rebates or commissions to customers if it will injure competitors. 

Unfair Competition Law

The unfair competition laws prohibit business practices from engaging in conduct that is considered to be unlawful, unfair and/or fraudulent. There are multiple types of conduct that are included in this category, among which are such actions as the "bait and switch" in order to bring in customers.

False Advertising

California’s false advertising statutes forbid businesses from offering products or services where the advertising contains a statement which is untrue or misleading, that the business owner knew about. An example of this would be a massage therapist sending out an ad offering massages for $20, but then claiming that this was not the price after giving the massage.