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    When a law, such as the Sherman Act, is unclear, courts must interpret what they believe the meaning and intent to be. In order to understand current antitrust laws in the U.S., we will need to briefly review how the laws have been applied and interpreted in a few important cases.

    In 1911 a case was brought against Standard Oil of New Jersey. In this case the U.S. Supreme Court set out its rule of reason doctrine. This doctrine declared that monopolizing is not, in and of itself, a violation of the Sherman Act. If monopoly was gained fairly and monopoly power was not abused, the Sherman Act was not violated. However, the court did find that Standard Oil had not behaved reasonably, that it was in violation of the Sherman Act, and ordered that the company be broken up.

    In a famous 1945 case brought against Alcoa Aluminum, the court ruled that sufficient market share was a violation of the Sherman Act, without any need to show unreasonableness.

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