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David H. Schwartz Aug. 26, 2020

California’s Unfair Competition Law (UCL) was established in order to prevent businesses from false advertising and fraudulent business practices. Not only was it meant to protect the consumer, but it was also intended to level the playing field of competition among businesses. Unfortunately, it is an easily misunderstood law that is often limited in its scope. However, businesses may find that they are on the receiving end of an unfair competition lawsuit. If so, it’s important to have a business litigation attorney who understands the nuances of the UCL and its limitations.

The Law Offices of David H. Schwartz, Inc. has the experience and resources necessary to represent California companies accused of unfair competition. They can examine your unique situation and discuss your options regarding a strategic legal defense. The Law Offices of David H. Schwartz, Inc. serves clients throughout San Francisco, Santa Clara, Alameda County, San Mateo, Oakland, and the San Francisco Bay Area of California.

California's Unfair Competition Law

According to the UCL, unfair competition can be described as any unlawful, fraudulent, deceptive business act, or misleading advertising used to entice consumers into purchasing a product or service.

Unfair business practices include false advertising, misrepresentation, deceptive pricing, tied selling, fraudulent, or immoral acts and practices by business against consumers. Examples include:

  • Bait and switch tactics

  • Incorrect pricing or misleading price information

  • Fake endorsements

  • False statements or misrepresentation

  • Exaggerated performance descriptions

  • Intensive pressure to influence consumer's purchase decision

  • Taking advantage of consumers by advertising using another language

  • Withholding vital product information

To succeed in an unfair competition lawsuit, the plaintiff must prove that:

  • The defendant engaged in unfair, deceptive, untrue, or misleading advertising

  • The defendant has acted unfairly in some manner

  • The defendant's misleading information or activities have caused confusion

  • The plaintiff suffered an injury, monetary, or property losses

Acts of unfair competition that are perpetrated against one or more senior citizens (those age 65 and over) or disabled persons, may be liable for additional penalties.

Business Defenses Against Unfair Competition Claims

There are a number of possible defenses that a business litigation attorney may explore in an unfair competition claim including:

Not Intended to Mislead

Courts have found in favor of the defense when advertising was clearly not meant to be misleading or fraudulent. For example, “Redbull gives you wings” isn’t meant to lead consumers to believe that drinking their product will give them wings.

Statute of Limitations 

Under the UCL, a lawsuit for unfair competition must be commenced within four years from the date of the injury or actual loss. Claims filed after that time are generally dismissed.

Failure to Establish Standing

Where the plaintiff is unable to demonstrate that the practice that they are calling into question led to a loss or financial injury, then they are said to have failed to establish standing.

Not Considered “Unfair” 

“Unfair” is a broad term and can be open to interpretation. Showing that a particular practice is common within an industry may refute the argument that it’s “unfair.”

The Advertising Is Indeed Accurate 

A consumer may challenge the validity of a claim but a business can demonstrate why it’s accurate and therefore a fair form of advertising.

How The Law Offices of David H. Schwartz , INC. Can Help

California's Unfair Competition Law was enacted in order to prevent false advertising and unfair competition practices. Unfortunately, it’s a law that is often wrongly alleged by consumers causing businesses time and expense. If you have been accused of deceptive business actions to entice consumer purchasing, consulting with an experienced business litigation attorney is crucial for proper guidance and to pursue fair compensation.

For more than 45 years, Attorney David H. Schwartz has been handling matters of unfair competition, false advertising, and business defamation. Mr. Schwartz has the experience and resources necessary to help protect your business and defend against false claims. You’ve worked hard to grow your business and you shouldn’t lose it to unsubstantiated claims.

Hire an Experienced Business Litigation Attorney in San Francisco, California

If you have been accused of unfair competition, contact the Law Offices of David H. Schwartz, Inc. for a one-on-one consultation. Attorney David H. Schwartz can fight vigorously on your side to protect your rights and your business. Mr. Schwartz represents business owners throughout San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Oakland, Alameda County, and the San Francisco Bay Area of California.