Abstract: Revisiting US Anti-Trust Regulation: The Anti-Trust Suit against IBM and Remington Rand in 1932

Lars Heide


This paper questions the efficiency of anti-trust regulation in the United States and addresses the contrast between anti-trust legislation and patent right. The paper is based upon the shaping of the indictment in the anti-trust case against IBM and Remington Rand in 1932. The punched card trust between the predecessors of IBM and Remington Rand had been established in 1914. From the outset it was an evident violation of the anti-trust legislation but it lasted eighteen years before an antitrust-lawsuit was filed in court. This contrasts with the impression of efficient anti-trust regulation in the literature on anti-trust regulation and business history, where the anti-trust regulation is used to explain superior performance by United States companies. In this case, the Department of Justice did not take any initiative to investigate and persecute the anti-trust transgressions, and the actual investigation and persecution of the misdemeanor was due to the persistence of a different government institution. This paper concludes by questioning the use of anti-trust regulation in business history to explain the performance of United States companies.