The vernacular used in discussing unfair competition and antitrust in matters of business and commerce is often antiquated. Think, for example, of the term "robber baron," which was used to refer to titans of shipping, real estate, and other industries who acquired vast wealth by consolidating power and influence to thereby virtually control relevant markets. In doing so, the board game Monopoly might come to mind, with its old-time tycoon fashioning a bowler hat and spectacles.
The business environment in the United States can be a ruthless place. Companies that sell similar goods and services to a particular market often spend millions of dollars competing with one another over customers and may even go as far as to engage in conduct that many people would find morally reprehensible if it occurred between individuals. Competition in business often benefits consumers by improving products and lowering prices, so, to some extent, it is encouraged. On the other hand, there are some types of business competition that are blatantly deceptive or amount to theft and, as such, are prohibited by state and federal law.
Unfair 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.
Per The Wall Street Journal, a trademark case that has been ongoing for the past 16 years has reached the Supreme Court. The basis of the case is built upon the fact that the names of the company, Sealtight and Sealtite, are phonetically similar, causing unfair competition. Sealtight alleges copyright infringement, stating that consumers are confused between the two brands and the products they sell. Is the company losing business due to this allegation? The Court is still deciding.