Unfair Competition Law




Unfair Competition Laws are designed to protect consumers and businesses alike against deceptive business practices. Some common examples of unfair competitive practices in commercial law include: trademark infringements, trade defamation, and misappropriation of business trade secrets. As pertains to consumers, unfair competition laws usually prevent unfair pricing strategies, like gouging, and false or misleading representations.

Trademark Infringement

One common form of unfair competition is a violation of the exclusive rights attached to a trademark without the permission of the trademark owner. Infringement may take place when one party, the "infringer," uses a trademark which is indistinguishable or astonishingly similar to a trademark owned by another party, in relation to products or services which are identical or similar to the products or services which the registration covers. The owner of the trademark may launch civil legal proceedings against the infringing party and, pursuant to the Trademark Counterfeiting Act of 1984, some acts of trademark infringement may even be punished as a crime. Common examples of trademark infringements include counterfeit products, like knock-off handbags, watches, and bootlegged movies.

Trade Defamation

Trade defamation is an intentional, false communication, either written or spoken, that harms a business/person's reputation. This false communication must decrease the respect, regard, or confidence in which the business or person is held, or induce disparaging, hostile, or disagreeable opinions or feelings against the business or person. While most trade defamation is a civil matter, in a few instances it can become criminal. Trade defamation can also include both written statements, known as libel, and spoken statements, called slander.

If you have questions about unfair competition, you can use the resources found below to further research the topic. Similarly, should you have further questions or need the assistance of an attorney, you can find one in your location who can help you with your unfair competition issues by looking at our Law Firms page.

Copyright HG.org


Know Your Rights!

Articles on Hg.org Related to Unfair Competition Law

Unfair Competition Law - US

  • ALI - Restatements of the Law - Unfair Competition

    This project, which addresses the right to compete, deceptive marketing, the law of trademarks, and related concepts of intangible property and correlative rights, marked the first time the Institute had addressed the subject of unfair competition since publication of the original Restatement of Torts more than half a century earlier. Together these subjects were to have been included in the Second Restatement of Torts, as they were in the first Restatement. See Restatement Second, Torts, Vol. 4, Introduction, vii-viii. It was eventually decided, however, that they should be addressed in a separate project.

  • Business Torts - Commercial Disparagement

    Since 1990, commercial torts against business have increased more than personal torts against individuals, and small business bears a disproportionate amount of liability costs. It is the small business — perhaps a family-run business, a tech startup, or a local business employing a handful of people — that bears the biggest burden.

  • Federal Trade Commission - Bureau of Competition

    The Federal Trade Commission's Bureau of Competition champions the rights of American consumers by promoting and protecting free and vigorous competition. The Bureau: * reviews mergers and acquisitions, and challenges those that would likely lead to higher prices, fewer choices, or less innovation; * seeks out and challenges anticompetitive conduct in the marketplace, including monopolization and agreements between competitors; * promotes competition in industries where consumer impact is high, such as health care, real estate, oil & gas, technology, and consumer goods; * provides information, and holds conferences and workshops, for consumers, businesses, and policy makers on competition issues and market analysis.

  • Federal Trade Commission Act - Unfair or Deceptive Acts or Practices

    The Federal Trade Commission ("FTC") is an independent agency established by Congress in 1914 to enforce the Federal Trade Commission Act ("FTC Act").(1) Section 5 of the FTC Act prohibits "unfair methods of competition," and was amended in 1938 also to prohibit "unfair or deceptive acts or practices."(2) The Commission enforces a variety of other antitrust and consumer protection laws as well.

  • Federal Trade Commission's Investigative and Law Enforcement Authority

    The Commission's specific investigative powers are defined in Sections 6, 9, and 20 of the FTC Act, 15 U.S.C. Secs. 46, 49, and 57b-1, which authorize investigations and various forms of compulsory process. In addition, the premerger notification provisions in Section 7A of the Clayton Act, 15 U.S.C. Sec. 18a, prohibit consummation of covered acquisitions until the requested information is provided, thus effectively enabling the Commission to obtain information regarding such acquisitions.

  • Noerr-Pennington Doctrine - Wikipedia

    Under the Noerr-Pennington doctrine, private entities are immune from liability under the antitrust laws for attempts to influence the passage or enforcement of laws, even if the laws they advocate for would have anti-competitive effects.

  • Unfair Competition - Wikipedia

    Unfair competition in a general sense means that the competitors compete on unequal terms, because favourable or disadvantageous conditions are applied to some competitors but not to others; or that the actions of some competitors actively harm the position of others with respect to their ability to compete on equal and fair terms.

  • Unfair Methods of Competition

    Unfair methods of competition in or affecting commerce, and unfair or deceptive acts or practices in or affecting commerce, are hereby declared unlawful.

  • USDOJ - Unfair Competition - FTC Act - Sherman Act - Clayton Act

    Federal antitrust laws apply to virtually all industries and to every level of business, including manufacturing, transportation, distribution, and marketing. They prohibit a variety of practices that restrain trade, such as price-fixing conspiracies, corporate mergers likely to reduce the competitive vigor of particular markets, and predatory acts designed to achieve or maintain monopoly power.

Organizations Related to Unfair Competition Law

  • American Antitrust Institute (AAI)

    The American Antitrust Institute is an independent Washington-based non-profit education, research, and advocacy organization. Our mission is to increase the role of competition, assure that competition works in the interests of consumers, and challenge abuses of concentrated economic power in the American and world economy. We have a centrist legal-economic ideology and promote the vigorous use of antitrust as a vital component of national and international competition policy.




Contact a Lawyer

Find a Local Lawyer