Most business owners consider competition to be a normal part of business operations. However, unfair competition refers to deceptive business practices that can harm other businesses or consumers.
Usually, unfair competition involves bad faith, fraud or oppression that prevents the other party from participating in a trade. There are federal and state laws in place to prevent this practice.
Types of unfair competition
There are several activities that could include unfair competition. These include trademark infringement, false advertising, bait-and-switch, misuse of trade secrets and unauthorized substitution.
Trademark infringement includes using one business’s trademark without permission and false advertising involves making misleading or false claims about a company’s product. Trade secret misuse happens when a business takes another company’s proprietary information.
Consumers may be misled by bait-and-switch practices where a company will advertise an item at a certain price and when customers arrive to purchase it, they are told that it is sold out and offered a similar item at a higher price. Unauthorized substitution is similar and involves a business replacing one item for another without the consumer’s permission.
There are several factors the court may consider when determining how much to award in damages for unfair competition. These may include how many violations there were, how long the misconduct occurred and the seriousness of the misconduct.
The damages are intended to help the business regain money, property or other losses it experienced because of the unfair competition. An experienced attorney can provide guidance about pursuing an unfair competition claim.