Information exchanges among competitors can seriously harm competition. Because such exchanges evidence an agreement, the appropriate legal question is whether the exchange involves a restraint on competition, i.e. a mutual forbearance. Exchanges among price takers in competitive markets do not imply any restraint on individual freedom of action, but when the parties are rivals for business, the risk is substantial. If the information exchanged is not consistent with what true competitors would share, it evidences an understanding to restrain competition. The leading cases, despite confusing references to the “rule of reason,” are consistent with that analysis. Central focus should rest on the kind of information being exchanged rather than an effort to identify a specific associated restraint.

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