Do companies also know for a better lack of words armistice? When searching for non compete agreements everything that comes up are agreements between companies and employees, but do whole companies also have non compete agreements with other companies? This is akin to price fixing, but would include more, since competition is not only restricted to price. I wonder if companies which are not allowed to merge because of monopoly laws have such non compete agreements. What are such non compete agreements called? Because right now this term seems to only apply to contracts between companies and employees.
This is known as dividing markets or market allocation, and it is against the law in the US, the EU, and I imagine in most countries with antitrust laws.
Real life is more complicated than that. For example Companies A and B might be competing in the same market sector, but then collaborate on producing a new product aimed at a particular niche in the market. It is quite likely the legal agreement for the collaboration will state that neither company will individually develop or market a product to compete with the joint venture.
FWIW I know of one case (through personal involvement) where one of the companies broke the intention of such an agreement (which specified the size, weight, and power output of an engine) by designing something that met the specification but was smaller and lighter than the parameters specified in the non-compete agreement. The other company in the collaboration didn't think this was technically possible, until they discovered they were wrong.
Not "nice" behavior, but perfectly legal. Of course the company that "broke" the agreement had intended to break it right from the start. They just didn't tell the other collaborator how good their designers were beforehand. Getting into a situation where the customer has two products apparently produced by "competitors" to choose from, but you make a profit whichever one they choose, is a good place to be!
Would you consider something like Apple Records vs Apple Computer to be a non-compete? There were legal battles over trademark, and early on "As a condition of the settlement, Apple Computer agreed not to enter the music business, and Apple Corps agreed not to enter the computer business." This was just the first of many legal interactions between the two parties, each one ending (for a time) in some sort of agreement that lasted some period of time.
The heart of the issue is how each could keep using Apple as a trademark, requiring them to be in different industries. The various agreements dealt with how to define which markets each company dealt in, thus restricting the other from competing in it.
"Non-competing" means that they are going to simultaneously raise their prices high with shorting actual production.
This existed as long as humans exist on this planet, and is called "cornering the market".
Every company wants to corner the market it exists on. Because it will increase their profits.
Consider two companies. We have for them that they both gain a surplus if they are going for cornering a market. But when you consider more companies, the harder it is going for them to corner, because they get increased opposition from "dissenting" companies who can fail their "non-compete agreement" by slightly changing the product, or simply by releasing it under different law. Chinese law for example, does not recognize laws from other countries.
If you look inside more philosophically, the intellectual property laws are already behave as they are "non-compete laws", but the antitrust laws are behaving as they are "compete laws", making it extremely difficult to actually corner a market this days.
Any corners you can see, like stock corner, when millions of people are waiting to buy single share of Apple stock or other "precious commodity" are actually only temporal corners. Like the Great Internet Bubble, there is nothing left of those companies like Netscape etc.