Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Oligopoly Definition:

A market condition in which there are but a few sellers of a specific product or service.

Related Terms: Monopoly, Cartel, Monopsony

In Liggett Group v Brown Wiloamson Tobacco, Justice Niemeyer of the United States Court of Appeals wrote, at Footnote #2:

"Whereas a monopoly is the control of a market by one seller, an oligopoly is a market condition that results when there are but a few sellers."

In Amjay Ropes and Twines v. Cordex North America, Justice Spiegel of the Superior Court of Ontario deferred to this definition:

"Cartel (is) a combination of producers or sellers that join together to control a product’s production or price and oligopoly (is the) control or domination of a market by a few large sellers creating high prices and low output similar to those found in a monopoly."

In the reasons for judgment of the Alberta Court of Queen's Bench in R. v Cominco, Justice Brennan wrote:

"... an oligopoly ... is the situation existing where there are only a few producers or sellers of a standardized or homogeneous product."


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