Preventing Unfair Business Competition
As any successful entrepreneur will tell you, there are a multitude of competitive risks faced by companies that, although unfair, are perfectly legal. As such, the term “unfair competition law” is actually an illusory term and one of the most difficult areas of intellectual property to define.
Unfair competition law encompasses a variety of types of commercial or business conduct including acts of trademark and trade dress infringement, false advertising, dilution, and trade secret theft. Unlike other areas of intellectual property protection, such as patent and copyright law, unfair competition claims are not pre-empted by federal law and may involve both federal and state causes of action. The purpose of unfair competition doctrines is to protect consumers and competitors from deceptive or unethical conduct in commerce. The typical unfair competition situation exists, for example, when a business represents its goods or services in a manner that buyers confuse the particular goods or services with those offered by another business. Such claims may cover a myriad of potential items including unique and distinctive symbols, logos, methods of packaging, slogans, business names, “trade dress”, advertising campaigns, and unusual titles.
If you have an existing product or service that you find has been copied or pirated, unfair competition laws may help in obtaining relief in the event that other intellectual property protection is not available such as patents, trademarks, and copyrights. Where a judge finds that a business has engaged in unfair competition, he or she can issue an injunction prohibiting them from further activity and order them to pay monetary compensation to the injured party.