Unfair Competition and Price Fixing
Unfair competition laws are intended to and designed to protect consumers and other businesses against unfair or deceptive business practices. These laws protect consumers and companies that play by the rules from those businesses that are willing to cut corners, cheat, or lie to turn a profit. Without consumer protection laws, there is a high likelihood that dishonest businesses could out-compete honest operations by overstating quality, engaging in price fixing, or otherwise taking action that imperils the ability of parties to trade freely in good faith.
The experienced and dedicated attorneys of Meredith & Narine realize the significant damage unfair business practices can inflict on consumers and other companies. Therefore, we are dedicated to pursuing compensation for parties affected by such acts. However, we also realize that some parties may subvert the intended purpose of these laws and use an unfair competition lawsuit as a competitive weapon. When abuse of unfair competition and price fixing laws becomes rampant, negative economic consequences and public perceptions of these laws can occur. Therefore, we are also proud to defend against suits of this type to protect the intent and purpose behind these laws.
Infringement of Intellectual Property
A reasonably common form of unfair competition is a business that uses trademarks, service marks, trade dress, or other distinctive characteristics associated with a particular brand without authorization or permission of the trademark owner. For instance, a fast food restaurant that adopts a stylized yellow ‘M’ logo that looks strikingly similar to the largest fast food company’s logo would have likely, at minimum, violated the company’s exclusive right to use the trademarks and may have also infringed on the business’ trade dress. The owner of the trademark is entitled to pursue a legal action against the infringing party. Relief can include an emergency injunction to cease the use of the mark along with monetary damages.
Similarly, businesses that violate the copyrights of artists or entities would likewise be engaging in unfair business activities. Artists and the companies that sponsor them invest hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars when producing a new song, movie, show, or other work. Businesses that merely copy and trade on the intellectual property of others can reap the benefits without any of the associated costs. Clearly, competition under such an arrangement is impossible and endangers the continued ability to finance new works of culture and art.
Trade defamation occurs when a party makes a written or oral communication that is intentional, false and harms an individual’s or a business’ reputation. In order for the claim to be actionable and compensable the untrue communication must cause damage to the regard or confidence held in the person or company. Alternatively, if the false communication gives rise to disparaging, hostile, or disagreeable opinions or feeling, such action would also be actionable. There are both federal and state laws which prevent against tortious interference in trade. In the next section we will briefly analyze one of Pennsylvania’s laws prohibiting such practices.
Pennsylvania’s UTPCPL Protects Against Unfair Business Practices
Pennsylvania state law provides protection against unfair or deceptive business practices that target consumers. The main body of Pennsylvania’s Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law is contained within 21 individually and explicitly enumerated practices that Pennsylvania law forbids businesses from engaging in. Unfair and price fixing practices that are prohibited by this law include:
- Making negative statements about the goods or products sold by another person or entity when those statements are misleading or false.
- Engaging in a Pyramid scheme.
- Passing off goods or services as those provided by another person or entity.
- Promoting goods in such a way that is likely to cause misunderstanding as to the sponsorship, certification, or source of goods.
- Causing misunderstanding that the goods are connected to or affiliated with another person or organization.
- Representing that goods have an individual person’s sponsorship or approval.
Furthermore, the final provision contains a catch-all provision prohibiting individuals from “Engaging in any other fraudulent or deceptive conduct which creates a likelihood of confusion or of misunderstanding.”
Rely on An Experienced Philadelphia Business Attorney for Unfair Competition and Price Fixing Actions In Pennsylvania
The experienced unfair competition and price fixing attorneys of Meredith & Narine are dedicated to providing plaintiffs and defendants high-quality, strategic legal representation. To schedule a legal consultation with an experienced attorney call our firm at 215-995-2769 or contact us online today.