Business Torts and Unfair Competition
Our business litigation attorneys handle a variety of disputes that arise between competing companies. The free enterprise system promotes efficiency through competition. But laws also place limitations on how competition occurs. Where one business cheats, or competes unfairly, the law provides a remedy for the business that suffers harm as a result.
Where a person or company makes false or misleading representations that cause injury to the reputation of a business or its standing in the community, a cause of action may exist for business defamation. Damages in a business defamation case vary according to the nature of the representation and how broadly it was publicized, which tends to correlate with the amount of harm that results.
Where a person or company makes false or misleading representations about a product or the contents of a product, a product disparagement claim may exist. Liability is most likely to be found where the statements are made with actual malice or with reckless intent as to the truth or falsity of the statements. Sales staff are often pressured to increase sales in competitive environments. Where salespeople make false or misleading claims about a competitor’s product, this conduct can be fertile ground for a product disparagement claim.
Where a person or company makes false or misleading representations, this conduct may also cause a customer from reaching an informed market decision. In other words, the customer may make a bad decision based on false data supplied by the unfair competitor. Where this occurs, a company harmed by the provision of false information to a customer may sue the unfair competitor for damages. Claims in this realm may exist under state law or under the Lanham Act, a federal law.
Interference with Contractual Relations
Where a person or company interferes with a contract for an improper purpose or by improper means, this conduct may result in liability if the interfering party knew of a valid contract and intentionally acts to induce a breach of the contract. Actual breach or disruption of the contractual relationship must occur, and damages must result before liability will exist. Our attorneys assist plaintiffs and defendants in contractual interference cases, where a balance must be achieved between appropriate competition and improper competition, such as persuading a supplier not to sell a scarce manufactured component to a competitor.