Unfair Competition


A branch of intellectual property law, unfair competition is a term applied to all dishonest or fraudulent rivalry in trade and commerce. This term is particularly applied to the practice of endeavoring to substitute one’s own goods or products in the market for those of another for the purpose of deceiving the public.

This deception is commonly accomplished by imitating or counterfeiting the name title, size, color scheme, patterns, shape or distinctive peculiarities of the article, or by imitating the shape color, label, wrapper or general appearance of the package in such as way as to mislead the general public or deceive an unwary purchaser.

Acts of unfair competition are generally characterized by deception, bad faith, fraud or oppression, or as against public policy because of their tendency to unduly hinder competition. Unfair competition laws have been established to protect consumers and businesses and help prevent illegal merchandizing.

Source: Black’s Law Dictionary

Also Known As:

Unfair Trade Practices


Examples of unfair competition include:

  • Trademark infringement - such as using the Coca-Cola® trademark on a soda container manufactured by a competing beverage maker.
  • False advertising - such as making false claims about a drug's abilities to promote weight loss.
  • Unauthorized substitution of one brand of goods for another – such as substituting a low-cost handbag for a designer handbag.
  • Misappropriation of trade secrets - such as stealing a competitor’s soft drink formula.
  • False representation of products or services - such as exaggerating a software program’s spellcheck capabilities.

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