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The legal details of deceptive trade practices

Starting any kind of business in Chicago can be the thrilling beginning to a new life chapter. After leaping over the main obstacles of forming a business, new owners can look forward to establishing their long-term goals and reap the benefits of a new career path. While there are countless advantages to owning a business, this pursuit can come with an equal amount of drawbacks and stress. What happens if that stress comes from unfair business competition? 

The Chicago Tribune remarks on a recent business debacle involving Kmart and costume brand Rasta Imposta. Although on a corporate level, these businesses are currently experiencing an unfair competition issue. Kmart has long been a customer of Rasta Imposta, especially for Rasta’s notorious banana costumes. Yet this year sparked a new path for both companies: the two failed to reach an agreement, and Kmart has since claimed they would simply scout out banana suits elsewhere. Rasta Imposta then sued Kmart and Sears, alleging copyright infringement, trade dress infringement and unfair competition.    

Large companies such as Rasta Imposta are not the only business to experience unfair competition. The Illinois General Assembly clarifies some of the details of unfair competition laws, and how they can affect all types of businesses. Known as the Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act, unfair competition laws in the state list a number of factors that can constitute as deceptive trade. The following practices constitute as unfair competition (this is not a complete list):

  • Pass off goods or services as those of another
  • Cause likelihood or confusion as to affiliation, connection or association with or certification by another
  • Use deceptive representations of geographic origin in connection with goods or services

If a business owner suspects that deceptive trade is at play, the IGA encourages steps toward legal action. In these cases, business owners are not required to provide proof of monetary damage, loss of profits or intent to deceive. However, costs or attorneys’ fees against a defendant may depend on the court’s assessment of the use of deceptive trade practice.