Most of us, at one time or another throughout our lives, have seen or heard the saying “All is fair in love and war.” So, likewise, should all be fair in business and competition? According to 2006 New Mexico Statutes, Section 57-12-3, “unfair or deceptive trade practices and unconscionable trade practices in the conduct of any trade or commerce are unlawful.” In other words, unfair competition will not be allowed.
In an article published by The Balance Careers, updated July 1, 2018, we find several examples of practices that would be considered unfair in the business world. However, almost all of them fall under one of two main categories.
The first category is deceptive trade practices. These are instances in which a consumer has been intentionally misled, and can occur in a variety of ways. If a company designs packaging or a logo that is similar enough to a competitor’s branding that a product could be easily mistaken by a consumer as such, misleading and deception have occurred. In addition, a company name that displays too similar to a competing company name can be construed as counterfeiting. This instance includes not only the name itself but also font type and size as well as other characteristics.
The second category is unfair trade practices. These can include bait-and-switch offers, which lure a consumer into a business by advertising a great price on a popular product. The company then claims to be sold out of that product but offers the consumer their own similar product at the same cost. Another example would be an unauthorized substitution. These lead a party to believe they are purchasing a name brand, quality product. The business owner instead sells a “knock-off”, or lesser quality item without the consumer having any knowledge of the difference. These are only two examples of many scenarios which could be construed legally as unfair trade practices.
Mostly, unfair trade practice cases are argued in state courts. However, some cases are transferred to the Federal court system where trademark or copyright infringement has occurred. Proving, as well as defending these types of claims, can be a very complex and time-consuming matter. As such, any party involved in such a case should consult with an experienced business litigation attorney.