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Detailing deceptive and unfair trade practices

As a business owner or executive in Miami, you understand that the dealings between your company and your competition can become cutthroat. After all, your success often comes at their expense (and vice versa). However, this does not give either you or them the right to do anything in order to get ahead. Many of the client companies that we here at Welbaum, Guernsey, Hingston, Gregory & Black, LLP work with come to us believing that they their competitors have unfairly gained a market advantage over them. If you believe your company is facing the same predicament, then the question becomes when is a company simply outperforming competitors, and when is it dealing in unfair and deceptive practices? 

Florida has created its own Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act (its details can be found in Sections 501.201-501.213 of the state's statutes). Yet in defining what constitutes such practices, it defers to Section 5(a)(1) of the Federal Trade Commission Act. There it specifically lists unfair practices as being: 

  • Acts that cause (or are likely to cause) substantial injury to consumers
  • Acts that cannot be avoided by consumers
  • Acts whose results are not outweighed by countervailing benefits to consumers (or your company and other competitors)

Furthermore, deceptive businesses acts are classified to be representations, omissions or practices that mislead (or are likely to mislead) consumers. Those elements must be material, and a consumer's interpretation of them must be reasonable given the circumstances. 

If you are able to show that a competitor is indeed engaged in such practices, you may be able to seek injunctive relief to stop it. You may also be able to pursue civil action with the help of a state enforcing authority. More details on potential remedies that may come through business litigation can be found throughout our site. 

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