In California, a law exists to help regulate competition between different types of businesses: the California Unfair Competition Law (UCL). One of the main objectives of the UCL is to reduce the amount of false advertising that takes place in certain industries.
Defining Unfair Competition in California
To define unfair competition in California, we look to California Business and Professions Code Section 17200. This section gives us five practices that constitute unfair competition. It is important to note that a business would not need to engage in all five of the following to be in violation of this law. Engaging in any one of these acts is considered a violation of law.
– An unlawful business act or practice
– An unfair business act or practice
– A fraudulent business act or practice
– Unfair, deceptive, untrue, or misleading advertising
– Any act prohibited in Sections 17500 – 17577.5
A common violation of the California UCL is false or misleading advertisements. To prove this allegation is true, the plaintiff must show:
1. The defendant engaged in unfair, deceptive, untrue, or misleading advertising, and
It is important to note that California courts generally consider the concept of advertising to be almost any statement used in relation to the sale of goods or services. Yet, when the court looks to determine if the advertisement was misleading, they look at more than just the statement that was made. They examine the overall impression on the public or the individual. This can include images, words, the format of the advertising, and the way that the advertisement was packaged. California courts have commonly held that an advertisement is misleading if the public is likely to be deceived by the ad. Of course, we can’t forget that the plaintiff must be able to show the court that they lost money or property as a result of the ad.
Time Sensitive Claims
For those looking to bring a lawsuit alleging a violation of California UCL, it is important to note that these claims are time sensitive. Lawsuits must be brought within four years of the alleged violation or they are barred.
For more information on how to bring a UCL claim in California, contact experienced business attorney Drew E. Pomerance today.