Most in Daytona Beach may anticipate that the business world will be cutthroat and competitive. Yet simply because you and your company are in a state of constant competition with your competitors does not mean that you (and them) are not required to follow ethical practice guidelines. Some might hear the term "unfair competition" and roll their eyes, believing it to only be an accusation made by companies that are falling behind in their markets. Yet several business representatives often come to us here at Smith Bigman Brock asking for specific examples of unfair competitive practices.
Finding an answer to such a question requires a knowledge of Florida's Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act. Here, it adopts the same standards set forth by the Federal Trade Commission Act. This legislation defines unfair trade practices to be:
- Any that harm (or are likely to harm) consumers
- Any that cannot be reasonably avoided by consumers
- Any whose benefits are not outweighed by the countervailing benefits to both consumers and competitors
Similarly, deceptive trade practices include material actions meant to mislead consumers, and whose intended interpretation is reasonably likely to be adopted by consumers. An example might be where your competitor makes an implication that your specific products or services are inferior (based off no factual information), hoping that consumers will infer that it is referring specifically to your company. Such actions might also meet the definition of being in that such an inference cannot be avoided given the content (and context) of your competitor's claims.
Violations of the FDUTPA can include you being granted injunctive relief from your competitor's actions, and your competitors having to pay fines of up to $10,000 for each individual infraction. You can learn more about unfair and deceptive business practices by continuing to explore our site.