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    Unfair Competition, Deceptive Practices, and Business Torts

    In today's highly competitive business climate, businesses are subjected to various methods of competition, most of which are fair and lawful.  Some, however, are unethical, unfair, or unlawful.  Identifying those practices that go beyond the limit of vigorous competition and are thus potentially actionable requires a considerable degree of familiarity with a variety of federal and state statutes, administrative regulations, and common-law theories of recovery.

    As a starting point, the FTC has issued a large number of administrative guidelines directed at particular industries involving such issues as the following:

    • Deceptive or misleading labeling or advertising
    • Disclosure requirements in various contexts
    • Regulation of advertising practices, including testimonials or endorsements
    • Prohibition of discriminatory practices
    • Regulations issued pursuant to particular legislative enactments

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    Apart from specific administrative regulations, various statutes and common-law theories create a vast body of often contradictory law.  It is important to be able to identify what categories of conduct are unlawful in order to effectively advise clients as to the proper course of conduct.


    • Enforceability of noncompetition clauses in employment or sale of business contracts
    • Theft or unlawful appropriation of trade secrets
    • Unauthorized use of confidential information
    • Pricing practices
    • Unlawful credit practices
    • Solicitation of employees by competitors
    • Trademark infringement
    • Commercial disparagement and product replication
    • Interference with another's prospective advantage
    • Inducing breach of contact
    • Invasion of privacy and infliction of emotional distress

    It is evident that a broad spectrum of questionable practices can be actionable.  The indistinct divisions between categories and sometimes confusing definitions within categories warrant careful review and analysis before advising the client.  The business client needs incisive advice even before litigation ensues, certainly to avoid being a defendant, but also to convince competitors to desist from engaging in objectionable practices.  He/she always needs to know when he/she is on firm legal ground.



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    MEET OUR unfair competition law research ATTORNEYS


    Paul ferrer

    B.A., The Johns Hopkins University, 1986. J.D., University of Virginia Law School, 1989. Member, Connecticut Bar. Before joining NLRG in 1992, Paul was an associate, practicing in general corporate, securities, and institutional finance law with a Hartford, Connecticut, firm. His specialties are Agency, Antitrust, Banking, Commodities, Securities, Contracts, RICO, and Corporations.  He has extensive experience in the following areas: removal to and remand from federal court; alternative dispute resolution; sales cases arising under the U.C.C. or the Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods, federal False Claims Act cases, and government contracts.
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    lee dunham

    Lee is a graduate of the University of Virginia School of Law and a member of the Colorado Bar and Virginia Bar.  After graduating from law school, she served as a judicial clerk for The Hon. Stephen C. Mahan and The Hon. A. Bonwill Shockley of the Virginia Beach Circuit Court.  Following her clerkship, Lee worked for two years as a Legal Aid trial attorney at Blue Ridge Legal Services in the Shenandoah Valley, where her practice consisted primarily of domestic relations, landlord/tenant, and consumer cases.  Lee practiced bankruptcy and commercial law in Charlottesville, Virginia for four years, first in a solo practice and later with the firm of Royer, Caramanis & McDonough, LLP

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