What Are Trade Regulations?

Trade regulation laws are laws enacted by both federal and state governments to promote unrestrained competition amongst businesses. Trade regulations extend into many categories of law, such as anti-trust law, which prohibits anti-competitive acts like price fixing, monopolistic conduct, and deceptive practices. Consumer protection law, advertising law, trademark law, and franchise law also fall under the umbrella of trade regulation.

The First Trade Regulation Laws

The Sherman Act, passed in 1914, was the first major anti-trust law enacted by Congress. Congress also passed another trade regulation, the Clayton Act, during the same year. The Clayton Act prohibits price fixing and exclusive sales contracts between competitors, otherwise known as covenants not to compete.

State Trade Regulation Laws vs. Federal Trade Regulations

The U.S. Constitution gives the federal government jurisdiction over interstate and foreign trade, and allows states to regulate trade that occurs exclusively within a state. This means that interstate trades, as well as trade practices between states and foreign jurisdictions, are subject to federal trade regulation laws. Interstate trade is also subject to state trade regulations.

Intra-state trade, or trade solely within one state, is usually only subject to state trade regulations. However, if it is shown that a local trade practice affects interstate commerce, it may be subject to federal trade regulations as well. There are several federal agencies that assist in enforcing and promoting trade regulation laws. These include the Department of Commerce (DOC) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The DOC promotes economic growth, job creation, and technological development by working in partnership with schools, businesses, and communities. The FTC enforces trade regulation by prohibiting unfair or fraudulent business practices, and promoting consumer protection. The federal government has also enacted other various laws to help enforce criminal and civil liabilities for violation of trade regulations.

Getting Legal Help

It's important to remember that state and federal trade regulations differ, and that your business may be subject to both federal and state laws. States have enacted their own sets of trade regulation laws meant to prohibit fraudulent business practices, enforce consumer protection, and promote economic growth. If you have questions about the laws that affect your business, contact an antitrust and trade regulation attorney in your area for more information about the trade regulations in your state.