AUSTIN – Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton today announced the settlement of an antitrust investigation into Pennsylvania-based Benco Dental Supply Company’s participation in an illegal group boycott in the dental supply market. The State filed suit in Travis County District Court alleging that Benco violated Texas antitrust law, along with an agreed final judgment prohibiting Benco from engaging in similar conduct and providing for the payment of $300,000 to the State.
“Conspiring with others to prevent the emergence of new distribution channels for goods and services is contrary to the notion of the free market and violates antitrust laws,” said General Ken Paxton. “Such interference should not be tolerated in the dental supply industry or any other. The Texas Attorney General’s Office will continue to ensure that companies doing business in Texas have the opportunity to compete in a free market on the merits.”
The State’s antitrust action stemmed from a year-long investigation into allegations that Benco and its competitors worked together to thwart the entry of a lower-cost, online source of dental supplies provided by the Texas Dental Association. The State alleged that Benco and others colluded to discourage distributors and manufacturers from working with the TDA and its business partner and agreed not to attend the TDA’s annual trade show in 2014.
The State’s agreement with Benco requires Benco not to participate in such anticompetitive activities in the future and institutes an antitrust training program for the company. Benco has also agreed to pay $300,000 to reimburse the Attorney General for investigative costs and attorneys’ fees in lieu of any civil penalty.
The petition and final judgment can be found at: https://www.texasattorneygeneral.gov/files/epress/files/2015/April/file_stamped_petition.pdf and www.texasattorneygeneral.gov/files/epress/files/2015/April/benco_agreed_final_judgment.pdf