The Certification Institute has a policy of strict compliance with federal and state antitrust laws. The purpose of this policy is not only to prevent violations of the antitrust laws, but also to avoid even the appearance of a violation. The basic principle underlying this policy is that there shall be no illegal agreements reached or carried out through the Certification Institute. It is particularly important that pricing decisions regarding participants’ products and services must be made by each participant independently and acting alone. This applies to all terms and conditions that affect price. Certification Institute participants cannot come to understandings, make agreements, or otherwise concur on positions or activities that in any way tend to raise, lower or stabilize prices or fees.
Since the price of products or services is not a factor in the certification process, there is rarely a need for Certification Institute participants or boards to discuss any matter related to pricing. Participants can discuss pricing models, methods, systems and applications as they related to illegal or fraudulent operations that may be a factor in certification. However, there can be no discussion as to what constitutes a reasonable, fair or appropriate price or fee to charge for any service or product. Information may be presented with regard to historical pricing activities so long as such information is general in nature and does not include data on current prices or fees being charged in any trade area or by any company. Any discussion of current or future prices, fees, discounting, and other terms and conditions of sale, which may lead to an agreement or consensus on prices or fees to be charged, is strictly prohibited. Participants are cautioned that a price-fixing violation may be inferred from price-related discussions followed by parallel decisions on pricing by participants – even in the absence of an oral or written agreement. Such discussions among participants or at certification board meetings are specifically prohibited.
In addition, each Certification Institute participant must decide individually and without consultation with other participants on the customers with whom it wishes to deal and the markets that it desires to supply. Accordingly, at Certification Institute meetings, there shall be no discussions on whether one company should deal with another, on whether it should sell in a particular market, on whether it should sell to particular customers, or that participants should refuse to deal with a company or individual, or purchase its products or services, because of its pricing or bidding practices. Likewise, while certification clearly involves criteria that some companies may consider important in customer selection or underwriting, there will be no discussion at board meetings or among participants of plans or agreements to influence the customer selection or underwriting of any company. Each company represented on a certification board or participating in a certification program must be able to establish its own criteria for selecting customers without any interference or pressure from the Certification Institute or its participants.