Can your business sue another for unfair competition?

Unfair competition is a situation that involves deceptive or unethical business practices designed to harm other businesses.

The federal and state laws regarding unfair competition aim to protect intellectual, economic or creative interests. They do so by preventing companies from misappropriating another’s work and representing it as their own. You might have a right to various remedies if someone subjected your company to unfair competition.

Which laws make unfair competition unlawful?

Unfair competition encompasses many different economic torts, including trademark infringement, the unauthorized substitution of a brand’s product(s), misappropriation of trade secrets, false advertising and false representation of products or services.

The basis for unfair competition exists in the United States Constitution under Article 1, Section 8, Clause 3, known as the Commerce Clause. §43(a) of the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. §1125(a), deals with copyrights, trademarks and false advertising. It gives business owners the right to sue others for violating those statutes. The Uniform Trade Secrets Act aims to protect the misappropriation of trade secrets and regulate against counterfeit goods.

What remedies are available in unfair competition cases?

Each state has statutes on the books outlining remedies that plaintiffs can pursue when unfair competition occurs. These remedies may include monetary damages as well as injunctive relief to restrain a company or person from further violations and cease and desist their unlawful practices.

Monetary damages may range depending on the number of violations and the degree of seriousness of the misconduct. As far as the latter is concerned, the court may consider how long the misconduct has occurred and whether it was willful. The judge may also consider how many assets, liabilities and net worth that the defendant has.

What should you do if someone subjected your company to unfair competition?

If you have been the victim of unfair competition, then you may be entitled to monetary damages or injunctive relief. Each case and resolution is different. You can get legal help to determine if you have a viable unfair competition claim and go over your options.