What Laws Prevent Unfair Business Practices?
In California, unfair business practices are generally governed by the Business and Professions Code. The statute was made law in California in 1977 and provides a fairly comprehensive framework to seek relief for those who are aggrieved by unfair business practices.
What Are Examples Of Unfair Business Practice Cases Your Firm Handles?
Some examples include false representation of a good or service, claiming to be associated with a well-known brand or person to improve their reputation, non-compliance with manufacturing standards, false advertising, and deceptive pricing. These are all examples of unfair business practices that California courts have taken action upon. The law applies to both businesses and individuals and both can assert or be subject to unfair business practices claims.
We have also seen the unfair business practices law used in employment cases where there’s a claim of harassment, discrimination, or a failure to pay overtime. An unfair business practices claim can therefore be part of many lawsuits in the employment context and this has become even more common in the last few years.
What Are Some Examples Of Business Practices That May Appear Unfair Or In Poor Nature, But Are Not Illegal?
One example of a business practice that may appear unlawful is when someone starts a business and thinks up a name or idea with the notion that nobody can copy them. That’s just not the case. That’s where trademark and patent laws come into place. Most people may think that it is not okay to copy someone’s idea, but it happens all the time. However, unless it’s something that can be trademarked or patented, people can often copy it. If you do not register your business name with the Secretary of State (for corporations and LLCs) or county (for fictitious business names), you are not protected. Therefore, when starting a business, or if you have a new concept or idea, you should speak with an experienced attorney to make sure that you and your idea are protected.
Can A Business Or Individual Sue For Unfair Business Practices?
A business or individual can absolutely sue for unfair business practices. As mentioned, it’s set forth in the Business and Professions Code in California. Other states have their own unfair business practice laws and statutes.
What Are Remedies To Unfair Business Practices?
The two most common remedies in unfair business practice cases are restitution and injunctive relief. Restitution means that if you’ve been harmed and lost money or property as a result of unfair business practice, you can go to court and ask the court to order the bad actor to reimburse you for the money or property you lost.
The other remedy in these types of cases is injunctive relief. Injunctive relief refers to the court ordering the bad actor to stop their improper conduct, whether it is false advertising, claiming an association with a well-known brand or something else. Sometimes, it’s a combination of restitution and injunctive relief.
One other remedy available in these cases, although not common, is punitive damages. Punitive damages are not designed to compensate you for money or property that you have lost but to punish the bad actor. For instance, if you suffered damages of $100,000 and the bad actor’s conduct was especially egregious, the court might order the bad actor to pay you the $100,000, plus punitive damages which can be well in excess of that amount. Typically, the court will look at the bad actor’s ability to pay in determining a proper award of punitive damages. If a large corporation engaged in egregious conduct, punitive damages can reach into the millions of dollars because it has the ability to pay that amount.