Both federal and Illinois business law have long recognized the need to safeguard and protect unfair competition
and deceptive business practices that can cause serious and irreparable harm to businesses and business relationships. The law of unfair competition deals with business torts that cause economic damage to a business through deceptive business practices.
Unfair competition can be broken down into separate legal categories. The term “unfair competition” is generally associated with business torts that intentionally confuse prospective clients or consumers as to the source or owner of the business product or service. The second legal category, “deceptive business practices,” comprises all other forms of unfair business competition.
Unfair competition may be defined as any commercial or business behavior or activity that is legally unjust, inappropriate and/or deceptive. Unfair competition includes the following, among others: trademark infringement, false advertising, bait and switch selling tactics, use of confidential information by a former employee to solicit customers, breach of restrictive covenant or breach of noncompete agreement, trade libel, false representation of products or services, and theft of trade secrets. Unfair competition can also include various illegal dirty tricks within the commercial marketplace.
The Illinois statute dealing with unfair competition is the Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act (815 ILCS 510 et. seq.). This act prohibits false and fraudulent advertisements, and a private person can bring an action for damages caused by the deceptive trade practice(s) of another.