The law of unfair competition is a large, diverse body of law that provides businesses and consumers protection against unfair or deceptive business practices. Unfair competition includes trademark infringement or dilution, "passing off" of goods or services, false advertising or representation of services, "bait and switch" selling, fraud,and other practices meant to deceive or confuse consumers and injure competitors. Unfair competition also includes trade secret theft, trade libel, and misappropriation. New technology. media, the Internet, and e-commerce have created a variety of new unfair and deceptive practices.
Unfair competition consists of a variety of federal and state laws. Federal unfair competition is law is mainly governed by Section 1125 of the Lanham Act. Additionally, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), established by Congress, helps protect consumers by informing and educating the public. Additionally, the FTC provides federal regulations concerning unfair or deceptive business practices. Additionally the FTC often investigates and files lawsuits against businesses engaged in unfair business practices.
In addition to federal law, states have enacted their own legislation dealing with certain types of unfair competition. One of the strongest state unfair competition law is California's §17200 Business & Professions Code which outlaws "any unlawful, unfair or fraudulent business act or practice and unfair, deceptive, untrue or misleading advertising."