The Aluminum Company of America (ALCOA) insists that it never excluded competitors; but we can think of no more effective exclusion than progressively to embrace each new opportunity as it opened and to face every newcomer with new capacity already geared into a great organization, having the advantage of experience, trade connections, and the elite of personnel.
- Judge Hand.
The most notable landmark case in antitrust history in which the government has broken up a business for the heinous crime of being the most successful, the case was heard in 1945.
The above quote illustrates how terribly the Sherman Antitrust Act can be used for the opposite of its intended purpose - to penalise those that provide the market with what it needs. ALCOA's crime was anticipating demand and expanding to meet it. It was a monopoly (it had an 80% market share) - but it was not a coercive monopoly - that is, it did not restrict competitors from joining the market in any way other than being a successful company. It did not fix prices, collude with producers or supplier, or do anything to attempt to dominate the industry other than produce.
ALCOA managed to maintain its low prices by stressing efficiency and constant cost reduction - if it had attempted to maximise profits by raising its prices, it would quickly have been undercut by competitors that could enter the market and provide aluminum cheaper. Even if we advocate some sort of halfway-house in the Antitrust Law rather than their total abolition (as some, say, Ayn Rand might do), it is surely plain that here the laws have achieved the exact opposite of what they intended - ALCOA was penalised for being a success, for having a size and structure geared to providing the customer efficiently.
Five years after, the Cellar-Kefauver Act said that market share alone could be evidence of intent to monopolise (being a monopoly was not actually illegal, it was "intent to monopolise" ie, push out other trade, that was against the law).