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The Burdens of Unfair Competition

business-unfair-competition.jpgUnfair competition has been a hot topic in the media since United Airlines and travel website Orbitz filed a lawsuit in late December against the 20-something founder of Skiplagged.com, a website which helps travelers find "hidden city" airline ticketing.

CNN reported that the lawsuit alleges unfair competition and strictly prohibited travel information provided via Skiplagged.com. Is the functionality of the website illegal or just bad for business? Do the parties have a case of to recover lost revenue? These are the types of questions that arise in cases where businesses are victimized by questionable practices of competitors.

When navigating the legalities involved in unfair competition lawsuits, California Business and Professions Code 17200 states that unfair competition means any "unlawful, unfair or fraudulent business act or practice and unfair, deceptive, untrue or misleading advertising."

There are three factors that constitute what is deemed unfair: business context, action being examined, and facts of an individual case. Examples of unfair competition include, but are not limited to:

  • Trademark infringement;
  • Misappropriation;
  • False advertising;
  • Trade secrets theft;
  • False representation of products or services;
  • Unauthorized substitution of one brand for another; and
  • Deceptive or "bait and switch" trade tactics.

    Say that you are a car dealership and your competitor offers a limited offer, too-good-to-be-true type of deal to draw in customers that is actually not available when they visit. The competitor's intention was not to sell as advertised, but rather to lure customers in and try to get them to buy something else on the lot, taking away potential sales and harming your business.

    In preparation for cases, our legal team works closely with our clients to create and investigate the specifics pertinent to the case. It is important to understand your rights by law and the differences between when something is seemingly unfair and when it crosses over to being illegal. We want to help you protect your business.

    We understand the complexities that arise in unfair competition cases and each of our attorneys have at least 25 years of courtroom experience to help fight for the best possible resolution. If you seek legal counsel regarding unfair competition in California, contact an experienced San Jose business law attorney at Diemer, Whitman & Cardosi, LLP today. 

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