From unfair pricing to false advertising, unfair competition leaves your business vulnerable and puts your profits at risk. Unfair competition lawsuits protect businesses from competitors engaging in deceptive or illegal practices that undermine their ability to compete fairly. If you have been the victim of unfair competition, understanding the legal options available is essential for protecting your business.
Deceptive or fraudulent practices negatively impact businesses of all sizes. Has your business suffered from unfair business practices? A Chicago intentional tort lawyer can provide the legal counsel and representation you need to protect it. At Wallace Miller, our experienced attorneys understand the complexities of unfair competition lawsuits and help those affected by dishonest practices. Contact our Chicago unfair competition lawyers today at (312) 261-6193 for a free legal consultation.
What Is Unfair Competition in Illinois?
Unfair competition involves legally unjust, inappropriate, and deceptive business behavior that disadvantages others in the marketplace. The law protects against these illegal activities in Illinois and remedies those wronged. Examples of unfair competition include trademark infringement, false advertising, and many more unethical business practices. Unfair competition also includes various illegal dirty tricks within the commercial marketplace, such as misrepresenting the performance or quality of a rival’s product.
Companies engaging in unfair business practices affect both consumers and other businesses. For example, consumers may fall for false or misleading advertising and buy an inferior product. In addition, companies may suffer harm when their competitors use illegal tactics for a competitive edge.
Fortunately, laws protect against these illegal activities. However, limitations, including time limitations, apply. It’s essential to contact an experienced lawyer and discuss your rights when resolving a problem with unfair competition.
What Are Examples of Unfair Competition?
Unfair competition is a broad term covering various practices in which a business creates an unfair advantage. These activities may be illegal in Illinois if they violate the Illinois Unfair Competition Act. Examples of unfair competition in Illinois include:
- Economic Relationship Interference: Unlawful economic interference in a business relationship happens when someone wrongfully interferes with another business’s economic interests, resulting in monetary losses.
- Contract Interference: Contract interference involves one party wrongfully interfering with another party’s contractual relationships, for example, by inducing the other party to breach the contract.
- Infringing on a Trademark: Trademark infringement occurs when an individual uses someone else’s trademark without permission to sell goods or services in the same market. This creates confusion and may harm the original trademark holder’s reputation.
- Trade Secrets: This occurs when someone wrongfully obtains or discloses information or techniques the trade secret owner kept confidential.
- Breaching Restrictive Agreements: Breaching a restrictive covenant or non-competition agreement means violating terms prohibiting post-employee actions like working for a competitor or stealing longtime customers.
- False and Misleading Representations: When one business makes false or misleading statements about another company or product, it may qualify as grounds for an unfair competition claim
These are just a few examples of activities that constitute unfair competition. If you believe your business is the victim of unfair competition, you may be able to pursue monetary damages and other forms of relief.
Unfair Competition Laws in Illinois
Both federal and Illinois business law recognize the need to protect against unfair competition and deceptive business practices. The Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act prohibits false and fraudulent advertisements and actions. It allows a party to bring an action for damages against the responsible party. In addition, this Act specifically prohibits specific actions, including:
- Passing off products as those of another business: A business cannot falsely claim its goods or services are those of another company.
- Causing likely misunderstanding about the source or certification of a product: A business cannot tell customers its goods or services gained approval by another entity when they have not.
- Causing likely misunderstanding about affiliation with or certification by another: A business cannot falsely claim affiliation with or endorsement by another entity.
- Using deceptive representations about the geographic origins of a product: A business cannot lead customers into believing their goods or services are from a particular place when they are not.
- Representing goods as original or new if they are used or secondhand: A business cannot falsely claim their products are original or new when used or secondhand.
- Representing goods or services as a particular quality if they are of another: A business cannot falsely claim their goods or services are of a distinct quality if they are not.
- Disparaging another’s product or business by false or misleading representations: A business cannot make false or misleading statements about someone else’s goods, services, or business.
- Advertising goods or services not intending to sell as advertised or in supply not expected to meet public demand without disclosing a limitation of quantity: A business can only advertise goods or services if it intends to sell them as advertised.
- Making false or misleading statements concerning price reduction: A business cannot make false or misleading statements about sales, clearances, or price reductions.
Under the Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act, the court must find that the defendant engaged in deceptive trade practices for the plaintiff’s claim to be successful. The plaintiff must not prove monetary damages, intent to deceive, or confusion or misunderstanding. Instead, the court can provide an injunction, stopping the business from unfair practices on reasonable terms. Depending on the facts of the case, the court may award costs and attorney fees.
The Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Practices Act is another powerful tool protecting businesses and individuals who are victims of unfair competition. The law prohibits fraud, deception, false pretenses and false promises, misrepresentation, and concealment of facts in trade or commerce. Elements of an Illinois Consumer Fraud Act claim include:
- A defendant committed a deceptive act or practice.
- The defendant intended for the plaintiff to rely on the deception.
- The deception occurred in the course of business.
- The deception caused the plaintiff damages.
The Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Practices Act discourages unfair and deceptive practices affecting consumers and businesses. A qualified attorney can help businesses and individuals understand their rights under the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Practices Act and pursue claims for damages when appropriate.
Proving Unfair Competition
Certain elements must exist for a successful case when trying to prove an unfair competition claim in Illinois. These elements include the contract of business relationships, interference in these relationships, loss of economic gain, and damage or injury to the company. Any form of unfair competition disrupting a business’s ability to make money or damaging its reputation may be grounds for legal action.
Establishing unfair competition often involves working with other parties, such as clients and customers, and business relationships harmed through the unlawful business practices of the defendant.
Proving unfair competition is a complicated process and requires an experienced lawyer. An attorney can help you gather evidence proving your case and seek restitution for any damages your business incurred because of the competition’s actions. With the help of a lawyer, you can ensure your business is well-protected under Illinois law.
How an Unfair Competition Lawyer Can Help
After your business or trademark suffers harm or damages from unfair competition, it’s important to take legal action. An experienced lawyer can provide invaluable assistance throughout the legal process of filing a lawsuit for unfair competition. Here are a few ways a lawyer can help:
- Expert advice: An experienced lawyer provides valuable advice and guidance on proceeding with your case. For example, a lawyer can assess the strength of your claim and provide counsel on moving forward.
- Research and gather evidence: Your lawyer will also conduct a thorough investigation into the matter, gathering evidence and witness testimony to build a strong case in your favor.
- Negotiate with opposing parties: An experienced lawyer can negotiate with the other party to reach an out-of-court settlement that benefits your business.
- Represent You In Court: If a trial is necessary, your lawyer will present your case and advocate for the most favorable outcome possible.
With the help of an experienced lawyer, you can take action against those engaging in unfair competition and seek justice for the harm suffered by your business. By providing legal advice, conducting investigations, negotiating with opposing parties, and representing you in court, a skilled Chicago unfair competition attorney ensures you receive fair treatment and the compensation you may deserve.
Speak With an Unfair Competition Lawyer in Chicago
If you believe you are the victim of unfair competition in Illinois, it is important to speak with an experienced attorney immediately. At Wallace Miller, our team of experienced Chicago unfair competition lawyers helps businesses understand their legal rights and explore their options for legal action against those responsible.
We’re well-versed in the complexities of Illinois unfair competition law and work tirelessly to protect your interests. We listen to your story, analyze the facts of your case, and provide honest and straightforward advice on the best path forward. In addition, we will aggressively pursue all available remedies and work towards the best possible outcome.
To learn more about how Wallace Miller helps companies take legal action against those engaging in unfair competition in Illinois, contact us today for a free consultation with an experienced Chicago intentional tort lawyer.