The North Carolina Unfair Trade Practice Act gives your business specific legal protection from unfair or deceptive business practices used by your competitors. They key is that your business must have been harmed and the practice itself must also be a business activity. What is unfair? Any practice that either: (1) offends established public policy or (2) is immoral, unethical, oppressive, unscrupulous, or substantially injures consumers. Also covered are situations where your competitor is a “big fish” in your market, and unfairly asserts its market power or position to the detriment of other parties. This allows such claims to examine a broad range of behaviors, from your competitor’s marketing practices to information they are withholding about their product, particularly as it relates to issues of safety. What is deceptive? Any practice that has the tendency or likelihood to mislead, even if the words your competitor carefully chose are literally true. This definition most often applies to advertising or other situations in which your business could be hurt by a false statement or nondisclosure.
What is a business activity? Here, the definition is generally broad, encompassing whatever activities the business regularly engages in and for which it is organized. Though North Carolina courts have closed off some areas, such as internal disputes and dealing in securities and others are blocked by federal laws, there is still a wide range of conduct that can be covered. The other good news is that remedies under the North Carolina Unfair Trade Practice Act are substantial. A successful claim will entitle you to triple the amount of the damages that you suffered, and if the court finds that your competitor engaged in the practices at issue “willfully” you may be able to recover attorneys’ fees as well. At Garrett, Walker & Aycoth, we prize a level playing field. Don’t be intimidated out of court or out of business by a larger corporation trying to throw its weight around. Don’t sit idly by while competitors steal your customers by using unethical or misleading advertising. And don’t get stuck with an inventory of items that is not to the standard you were promised or that your customers demand. Let us fight for your equal right to compete in the marketplace. Call us today at (336) 379-0539 or contact us to schedule a free, in-depth consultation.