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Is that unfair competition?

Intellectual property laws cover an expansive array of business practices. One area covered by IP laws focuses on unfair competition.

Although unfair competition can take on different forms, the focus is often on misleading consumers. Those responsible may attempt to trick consumers into buying a product that they would not have purchased otherwise, perhaps by making it look like a product put out by competitors.

For instance, offenders can do this by “imitating or counterfeiting” any of the following:

  • The name

  • The size

  • The title

  • The color scheme

  • The pattern

  • The shape

  • The wrapper

  • The color of the package

  • The “distinctive peculiarities” of the product

  • The general appearance of the box, covering, package, label, etc

These tactics take advantage of customers who are unwary and do not look into the products they’re buying too closely. If a product’s packaging looks like it belongs to a well-known company, unwary consumers may assume that a reputable company makes the product. If the style of the product or logo looks familiar at a glance, they incorrectly assume it’s authentic.

This trick relies on the connections that the brain makes when seeing something familiar. For example, Company A has spent decades working on their branding and increasing awareness. However, Company B can quickly create a very similar box and start selling products to consumers who actually have no idea what they’re buying. Company B is now benefiting from all of the time and money Company A invested, as well as tarnishing or diluting the brand reputation of Company A.

If your brand is impacted by unfair competition, you absolutely need to know your legal options.


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