What is Unfair Competition in Illinois?
The term “unfair competition” or “unfair trade practice” is generally associated with business torts in which the defendant company or individual intentionally confuses prospective clients or consumers as to the source or owner of the business product or service. The law of unfair competition deals with business torts that cause economic damage to a business through deceptive business practices. These torts, often lead to business litigation whereby a business sues based on the damage to that entity’s revenue stream caused by the unfair competition and/or the deceptive business practice.
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. These actions, together and apart, can cause serious damage, and if they are not dealt with the damage can be permanent. Laws protect against these illegal activities, and limitations, including time limitations, apply to the legal claims. Our Chicago business dispute lawyers are available to walk you through your potential legal claims and possible defenses.
What Laws Protect Against Unfair Competition?
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. In Illinois, there are a number of statutes covering unfair competition and unfair trade practices. For example Chapters 70, 740 and 815 of the Illinois Compiled statues name a few, 740 and 815 being most often relevant.
Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act
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. The act provides a business with a private cause of action against anyone who:
- Passes off goods or services as those of another
- Causes likelihood of misunderstanding as to the source or certification of goods or services
- Causes likelihood of misunderstanding as to affiliation with or certification by another
- Uses deceptive representations of the geographic origins of goods or services
- Represents that goods are original or new if they are used or secondhand
- Represents that goods or services are of a particular quality, if they are of another
- Disparages the goods, services, or business of another by false or misleading representations
- Advertises goods or services with intent not to sell them as advertised, or in supply expected to meet public demand without disclosing a limitation of quantity
- Makes false or misleading statements concerning price reduction
Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Practices Act
Unfair competition claims might often be asserted with additional, fraud-related claims. The Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Practices Act also protects business and individuals, and allows them to seek damages, when conducting trade or commerce, for: fraud, deception, false pretense, false promise, misrepresentation or concealment of facts. The elements of a claim under the Illinois Consumer Fraud Act include:
- A deceptive act or practice by the defendant
- The defendant intended the plaintiff to rely on the deception
- The deception occurred in the course of trade or commerce
- The deception caused actual damages to the plaintiff
Asserting your Rights – Contact Our Chicago Law Firm
A business dispute lawyer is critical to analyzing and asserting your rights regarding unfair competition. Our Chicago unfair competition attorneys handle cases in state and federal courts throughout Illinois, including Cook, DuPage, Kane and Will Counties. For additional information about our unfair competition lawyers and to discuss your unfair competition or deceptive trade practices case, please contact one of our Chicago business litigators at 312-789-5676. You can also contact us by email or by providing your information in the sidebar to inquire about your potential deceptive trade practice matter.