Carl Hittinger Examines American Monopolists through the Lens of History, Politics

Articles / January 10, 2017

Partner Carl Hittinger has authored a series of articles for The Legal Intelligencer that explores the history of select American monopolists by posing two fundamental questions: Why have some monopolists succeeded in gaining, maintaining and increasing monopoly power where others have failed? Why does history keep repeating itself and the basic lessons taught have not been learned by subsequent monopolists?” Further, Hittinger writes about the legal, social, political, marketing and public relations factors that are part and parcel of the monopoly conundrum.

In Part 1, published Sept. 8, 2014, and titled “A History of American Monopolists: Lessons Not Easily Learned,” Hittinger traces the history of the federal government’s regulation of monopoly power over the past 120 years and shows how the “fundamental underlining notions of fairness, a desired level playing field, a monopoly obtained through mainly business acumen, skill and innovation remain true today and are consistent with the American Dream.” He also explains how through history, some monopolists have run afoul of those principals and faced the consequences from the government and consumers.

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Part II was published on October 6, 2014, titled “A History of American Monopolists: Remembering One’s Non-Monopoly Roots.” In the article, Hittinger detailed Henry Ford’s fight against the Association of Licensed Automobile Manufacturers, which attempted to keep Ford out of the automobile manufacturing business by denying him a license owned by George Baldwin Selden for an internal combustion engine. After being twice denied a license, Ford produced a car using the engine and defended a patent infringement lawsuit filed by Selden. Ford won the lawsuit and was “much lauded by the public and the press as a monopoly slayer,” according to the article. Hittinger writes that Ford’s own experience being a victim of monopolists helped define Ford Motor Company going forward to avoid antitrust entanglements.

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Part III was published Nov. 3, 2014. Titled “A History of American Monopolists: Being a Good Corporate Citizen,” this article uses the example of Andrew Carnegie and Henry Clay Frick to discuss the role of philanthropy in the business and personal legacies of these two Gilded Age titans of industry. Hittinger writes: “What lessons can be learned by corporate America from the adventures of Carnegie and Frick about being a good corporate citizen? Plenty. Give early and often on the way up and not transparently on the way down in a desperate attempt to achieve salvation, absolution and redemption.”

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The next article in the series is expected to be published in early 2017.

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